The men at the frontlines of the battle to beat back al-Qaeda-linked militants in Somalia have not been paid for at least six months.
A European Union source informed the BBC of the withheld payments. The European Union funds the 22,000-strong African Union force (Amisom) fighting the Islamist militant group al-Shabab. According to the source, the last six-month payment was being withheld over “accounting issues”.
Concurring to the claim on ground, but assuring that the payments were being processed, the head of Amisom, Francisco Madeira told the BBC the correct papers to account for the last tranche had now been submitted;
“These papers are on their way; the money is also on its way,”
The funds are only released to Amisom by the EU once the accounts from the previous payment are signed off. The EU is expected to provide $1,028 (£700) for each Amisom soldier each month.
The soldiers however do not go home with that whole amount as the governments from their home countries deduct around $200 for administrative costs. So at the end of the day, the soldiers should take home about $800.
That figure is much higher than the meager salaries or allowances that the soldiers receive from their own governments. According to these reports, last year’s June-November payment has only just arrived and while the soldiers will receive the money owed to them last year, that for the months already passed in this year will still be held up.
The Ugandan military chief General Katumba Wamala said he is unable to describe the extent of his frustration over the fact that the troops have not been paid. The General also informed BBC that Uganda would pull its soldiers out of Somalia by December 2017, because of frustrations with the Somali army and military advisers from the US, UK and Turkey.
Considering the fact that Uganda which joined Amisom in 2007 is the force’s biggest contributor, with over 6,000 troops, that is not great news. The Burundian military officials said their troops have also not been paid.
EU ambassador to Somalia Michele Cervone d’Urso said he was “concerned about the delay” in the stipend which he said was “essential for the motivation of soldiers” and other Amisom officials fear that the late payments are having a negative impact on troop morale.