In a 27 April press statement, the European Union (EU) stated it cut salaries to AMISOM by 20% due to “competing priorities in Africa and the world in general” but relayed its intent to continue supporting the mission’s efforts against al-Shabaab.
As indicated by the map, there is no shortage of crises competing for the EU’s attention on the African continent, including efforts to stabilize Libya and Mali, defeat Islamic State-West Africa (aka Boko Haram), and address a disconcerting level of perilous migration across the Mediterranean. For further context on the heavy costs of peacekeeping operations, the UN’s approved budget for multiple missions through June 2016 can be found here.
Back in February, the EU Ambassador Michele Cervone d’Urso pleaded with the international community to fill the gap in AMISOM support, and this most recent statement indicated overall funding would not fall below the current level for now:
“Since we are involved and working together in other crises in world, we should also stand with AMISOM in Somalia. On our side, [the EU is] committed to maintain the current levels, which is a big commitment,” he added.
The EU has contributed as much as $200 million to AMISOM per year. The 20% cut, which has been in effect since January, of course has reduced salaries that soldiers serving in AMISOM receive, in Uganda’s case by about $400 (via the East African):
The EU paid each Ugandan peacekeeper $1,028, a figure that would fall to $828 after the government deducted $200 for preparation expenses. With the latest cuts by EU, the peacekeepers earning has been slashed by another $200, reducing further their take home allowance to $628.
The EU is also juggling the salary cut with efforts to sustain diplomatic pressure on Burundi, which has 5,400 troops in Somalia and is suffering from its own domestic crisis (via Reuters):
The European Union plans to cut back its funding for Burundi’s lucrative peacekeeping contingent in Somalia to try to force President Pierre Nkurunziza into talks with opponents and away from the brink of ethnic conflict, diplomatic sources said.
Bujumbura’s 5,400-strong contingent in Somalia’s AMISOM force — which earns the state roughly $13 million a year and its soldiers a combined $52 million — may be the Achilles heel of a government that wants to keep its fractious army happy with the extra pay its troops earn from peacekeeping.
A [European diplomat] said cutting all funding to Burundi’s contingent was “far from being a reality right now”, but he said cash would no longer be channeled via the government and the 20 percent kept by the state, worth about $13 million a year, would be scrapped.
“There is no way we will pay that anymore,” he told Reuters, adding that the EU was conducting negotiations with the AU aimed at finding a mechanism that by-passed Bujumbura altogether.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has made it clear that he believes African states should not have to bear the brunt of funding AMISOM because its troops are paying in flesh and blood and actually deserve increased support.
The disconnect between AMISOM’s troop contributing countries and donors raises the question about the mission’s endgame. George Washington University professor Paul D. Williams and policy analyst Abdirashid Hashi explore this topic in a February 2016 paper, which among many recommendations highlights the importance of building cohesive and disciplined Somali security forces.
As the U.S. urges AMISOM to continue offensive operations against al-Shabaab in Jubaland, perhaps the other big question is how a decrease in funding will impact the will of troops on the ground to make further progress.