AU special representatives statement at the opening of photo exhibition brothers in arms

16 Oct 2011

AU special representatives statement at the opening of photo exhibition brothers in arms



1. I am privileged to welcome you this evening to the Nairobi National Museum for a photo exhibition, during which for the next 10 days from 7th to 16th October, will give a vivid testimony of the impact of the conflict in Somalia.

2. This exhibition named Brothers in Arms, a name very appropriate for this event as it expresses the true nature and life of the AMISOM troops in Mogadishu. Today you will witness a depiction of the reality of the Somali conflict, photographs of soldiers living in difficult conditions in the frontline as they endeavor to assist their Somali brothers in bringing back peace in the country.

3. This event is important in honoring the brave men and women who tirelessly work to help our Somali brothers and sisters in achieving sustainable peace and security in their country. As most of you are aware, our forces are involved in more than just a peacekeeping mission but rather, a counter insurgent operation with very limited resources and have managed to register successes in Mogadishu.

4. This, in my view and I hope it is the view of everyone present here, deserves sincere recognition.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

5. As we applaud their tremendous work, I take this opportunity to inform you that the security in Mogadishu has greatly improved and especially since the withdrawal of Al-Shabaab militants. The visit to Mogadishu by several VIPs is a clear indication of this progress. However, it is unfortunate that in light of this development, the Al-Shabaab terrorist group has now resorted to desperate attacks and tactics to convince the world that they still exist. It is our belief that they have realized that they have lost the support of the Somali people.

6. Their cowardly acts, exemplified by their barbaric attack, on Wednesday 4th October 2011, where they targeted among others innocent students who were hoping to win student scholarships, clearly underscores the fact that Al-Shabaab does not have any regard for the lives of the Somali people. I wish to assure the people of Somalia and the International community that such acts by terrorist
groups will not deter the resolve of the African Union in its efforts to stabilize the country.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

7. With the commitment of our troops, we are making progress in implementing our mandate in Somalia. This resolve has come at a great sacrifice. Some of these courageous men and women serving under AMIOSM have lost their lives while others are still nursing injuries sustained during battles to secure Mogadishu. Despite all the difficulties and challenges we have faced and continue to face, I am honored to note that the morale of our soldiers continues to soar very high. I therefore wish to pay tribute to those who lost their lives.

8. On behalf of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, His Excellency Dr. Jean Ping and on my own behalf, I humbly take this opportunity to salute them all for their dedication and commitment to peace and security in Somalia and once again reassure the people of Somalia and our International partners that the African Union remains fully seized of the situation.

9. I also wish to thank and commend the Governments of Uganda and Burundi for their continued commitment to peace in Somalia through their contribution of troops to AMISOM. As you are aware, Uganda and Burundi are currently the only countries contributing troops to AMISOM. In addition, I would also like to thank all the African countries who continue to contribute staff officers serving in AMISOM towards this noble cause.

10. The African Union will deploy additional troops in Somalia to reach its mandated strength of 12,000. The Governments of Djibouti and Sierra Leone have shown strong commitment to deploy and I wish to welcome their willingness to join Uganda and Burundi in the efforts to stabilize Somalia.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

11. Allow me at this point to appreciate and commend the work of the dedicated team of photographers whose work has allowed us to gather here this evening and recognize further the incredible work of the AMISOM troops and the lives of the Somali people. Join me in congratulating the work of:

James Baker Tumusiime, Sergent Major from UPDF
Jean-Claude Mbayisenga, Sergent from Burundi Army
Emmanuel Mucunguzi, 1st Sergent from UPDF
Stephen Mugabi, Sergent Major from UPDF
Kate Holt, a Zimbabwean-born journalist, who provided some training for the military photographers

12. Secondly, I would like to also thank UNSOA and its contractors the AU/UN Information Support Team for their continued support to AMISOM who have organized this event. Their support especially in the area of strategic Communication has greatly contributed to the improved image of the mission.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

13. Lastly, soon you will view photographs which capture in intimate detail the lives of soldiers on the frontline and I hope that this exhibition will help you and many others appreciate and understand the reality of the conflict in Somalia and the sacrifices that these bold men and women are making in a bid to ensure that Somalia once again becomes a peaceful nation.

I thank you