Defense minister makes announcement, UN Security Council resolution, plan
Defense Minister Aden Duale said Wednesday that Kenya Defence Forces troops will complete a withdrawal from Somalia by Dec. 31, 2024.
“The last troops are expected to leave Somalia on 31 December 2024 as per the AU (Africa Union) and UN Security Council resolution and plan,” said Duale told the Senate.
He said Kenya began withdrawing troops from Somalia in April 2021, as part of a phased withdrawal of the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS).
Four hundred soldiers each from Ethiopia, Uganda, and Kenya are among the 2,000 ATMIS soldiers who have so far left Somalia.
An additional 200 soldiers from Djibouti and 600 soldiers from Burundi have also left.
The deployment of Kenyan troops to Somalia in 2011 was prompted by a series of kidnappings carried out by al-Shabaab terrorists.
At the time, the terrorists posed a grave threat not only to Somalia but to the stability of the entire East African region.
Kenyan soldiers, who now number more than 4,000 according to Duale, have worked tirelessly alongside other ATMIS forces to combat the al-Shabaab terror group.
He said the efforts of Kenyan troops have been instrumental in degrading the capabilities of the terrorists and restoring a semblance of stability in various regions in Somalia.
Despite significant successes in countering terrorism, the mission has not been without challenges.
Hundreds of Kenyans have been killed. Duale declined to give the exact figure, noting the government had fully compensated the families of those who lost their lives.
Kenya postponed a plan to initially withdraw 754 troops on Sept. 30. Duale noted there is a need to support Somali forces in their battle against al-Shabaab in central Somalia which demands continued collaboration with international partners.
He said Kenya remains committed to regional peace and stability and will continue to support efforts to counter terrorism in the Horn of Africa.