SOMALIA-UGANDA: Ugandan soldiers to train Somali army
KAMPALA, 16 August 2007 (IRIN) - Uganda will send an additional 250 soldiers to strife-torn Somalia to train the country's army as the transitional government in Mogadishu grapples with rising violence blamed on armed groups opposed to it.
"The contingent will not be part of the AU [African Union] peacekeepers because this is a bilateral arrangement that seeks to help the interim government build its own army," Ugandan army spokesman Major Felix Kulaigye said on 16 August.
The soldiers would leave for the country after Somalia's Transitional Federal Government finalised the training schedule, he added.
Uganda is the only African country to have deployed peacekeepers to the Somali capital so far. The 1,600-strong force was sent under the mandate of the African Union, which has been seeking some 8,000 African troops to help restore law and order.
Five Ugandan soldiers have been killed in mortar and bombing attacks during the past six months.
Violence has driven hundreds of thousands of civilians out of Mogadishu this year, forcing them to live in squalid camps in the outskirts of the capital, where they have limited access to food and water, and lack shelter, medical and sanitation facilities.
Despite heightened security, insurgents have continued to carry out attacks in Mogadishu almost daily.
According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), the Ethiopian, Somali and insurgent forces are all responsible for violations of the laws of war in Mogadishu and caused massive suffering for the civilian population.
"The warring parties have all shown criminal disregard for the well-being of the civilian population of Mogadishu," Ken Roth, HRW executive director, said on 13 July.
Ethiopia has however refuted the HRW statement, saying it was factually and morally unacceptable. "It suffers from numerous errors, displays seriously partial attitudes, demonstrates dangerously flawed motives, conspicuously fails to understand recent events in Somalia and shows no understanding of current progress towards a settlement," a foreign ministry statement said on 14 August.
Copyright © IRIN 2007
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