AMISOM and partners launch Somalia Civil-Military Working Group Report

Simon Mulongo, the Deputy Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia (DSRCC) speaks during a meeting on Civil Military working group held in Mogadishu, Somalia on September 7, 2017. AMISOM Photo / Omar Abdisalan

The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and its partners yesterday launched the Somalia Civil-Military Working Group Report that details achievements made in humanitarian support in the past three years in the country.

The report, jointly produced by AMISOM and United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), will also help guide future humanitarian operations as Somalia moves to establish structures for quick disaster response.

Speaking at the launch on Thursday, the Deputy Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (DSRCC) for Somalia, Simon Mulongo, hailed the cordial relationship between AMISOM and humanitarian agencies, saying it has helped improve coordination in delivering much needed aid to local communities.

“When we have a Civil-Military Working Group coming up to reconsider what should be the best way of relating between the military and the humanitarian agencies, it is a very welcome gesture, whose formation must be taken very seriously,” DSRCC Mulongo stated at the function attended by senior AMISOM officials, representatives of UN agencies and members of the diplomatic corps.

Mr. Mulongo noted that the ever changing dynamics in Somalia and the rise in number of humanitarian actors, calls for even greater coordination between the military and humanitarian agencies, to ensure aid gets to areas hard to access.

“The increasing number of humanitarian actors who are operating in this Mission requires that AMISOM and OCHA have effective working relations. On our part, we are confident that such joint efforts will help us not only understand our similarities but also resolve the differences,” the DSRCC explained

The Head of United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) in Somalia, Justin Brady, noted that since the focus of humanitarian agencies in Somalia is shifting to famine prevention, improved relations with the military is imperative, if aid is to reach impoverished communities in hard to reach areas.

“The past nine months has shown that we are not just in a typical protracted crisis in Somalia but rather we have shifted into a famine prevention mode and that is where the relationship with the military has become more important so that we can ensure the delivery of very vital supplies into areas that are not always accessible in order to assist communities stave off potential famine,” he noted, adding that though success has been recorded, a lot still remains to be done.

Mr. Brady warned that Somalia was not out of the woods yet in relation to the famine threat, saying the country was still in need of assistance which requires coordination between humanitarian agencies and the military.

“We are not out of the woods yet. We still have a long way to go. Perhaps we have reduced the areas that are in harm’s way of potential famine but the threat still exists and we will continue to seek to deliver in a scaled up manner, and that will require coordination with the military actors,” Mr. Brady pointed out.

Apart from detailing the progress made, the report calls for the development and compliance to Somalia Country Specific Humanitarian Guidelines to help in tackling future humanitarian crises.

According to the report AMISOM, with the support and guidance of the Civil-Military Working Group (CMWG), demonstrated it could play an effective role in facilitating humanitarian access through the use of Mission assets as ‘last resort’, ensuring assistance reached people in need.

The report notes that a challenging operating environment like Somalia requires close cooperation and coordination with state authorities, donors and humanitarian partners.

In 2014, AMISOM and the UN, following thorough deliberations with humanitarian partners signed and endorsed the Somalia country specific humanitarian civil-military guidelines for humanitarian actor’s engagement with AMISOM. The country specific guidelines govern relations on civil-military coordination in Somalia.