he Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia, Ambassador Boubacar Diarra, has said that the AU Mission in Somalia will continue its operations against the Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists in Somalia despite the unfortunate loss of three Ugandan helicopters en route to reinforce the mission.
The three helicopters were part of a group of four being sent to Somalia to support AMISOM – the first time that the 5-year old mission was to be equipped with an air component. They went down in bad weather in the Kenyan highlands on Sunday, killing at least two on board. 14 survivors have so far been found and a search and rescue operation has been launched by the Kenyan authorities to locate 5 others.
“At this time our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the bereaved, as well as with the people and Government and security forces of Uganda,” said Ambassador Diarra. “We are gravely concerned for the safety of those still unaccounted for and continue to pray that they will be recovered unharmed,” he added.
He said that despite the setback, AMISOM remained committed to improving the security of the people of Somalia and urged the UN and the international community to expedite the training and deployment of replacement helicopters and crew.
“As AMISOM continues to expand into open country, the deployment of these long awaited enablers, authorized under UN Security Council Resolution 2036, remains critical for operational, as well as logistical support and medical evacuation,” he said.
He paid tribute to the Government of Uganda for its continuing commitment to the cause of peace, security and reconciliation in Somalia.
He added that AMISOM would continue to monitor developments in the search and rescue operation.