The soldiers are engaging more with the population to deny al-Shabaab recruiting grounds. “There is no more shooting, we are now brothers, but have one enemy who we are determined to fight. If they come to kill AMISOM, we shall die with them,” an elder vowed.
AMISOM soldiers sharing food with Somalis women and childrenhas been in Somalia for over 10 years. Photos byEddie Ssejjoba
The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has nurtured a culture of sharing surplus logistics with the communities where they are deployed to keep peace in the various communities in Somalia.
It is one of the strategies in creating a rapport and strengthening their relationship with the respective communities, which has become effective in isolating the al Shabab militants.
Major Joram Kabegambire working at the Battle Group 22 located at Ceel Jaale in Marka district in the Lower Shabelle region, about 120km South of Mogadishu, said that in addition to other strategies, the forces organize and give out their relief to communities mainly women and children.
He said that in addition, during the month of Ramadhan (Fasting Period), they share their food stuffs like sugar, yoghurt, fruits, biscuits and others.
In appreciation of this gesture, during the last Christmas, according to Kabegambire, the community at Ceel Jaale donated a cow, two goats and chicken to the peace keepers to let them celebrate the day.
“We prepared meals and invited them here, we ate together as a way of solidarity and show brotherly love,” he explained.
It is for this reason that eventually community members get close and talk to the forces freely, which gives them the confidence to immediately report any suspicious people in their localities, who could be plotting an attack on the forces.
During a recent meeting with chiefs and clan elders from the region at Battle Group 22 headquarters, the commander, Col. Bonny Bamwiseki reiterated that the force has been encouraging dialogue between the different rival clans with a purpose of stopping the fighting amongst themselves, reconcile and work together to eliminate al Shabab.
He said that basing on religious ideological sentiments, the al Shabab group had fueled the fighting among clans, which used to give them soft grounds for mass recruitment.
But the situation was changing after the clans decided to cease fighting and joined AMISOM in maintaining peace in their respective areas.
“We used to fight and kill each other, but that has stopped because of the intervention of AMISOM,” said one of the elders.
He added that they are now able to trade with each other and people were free to move from one area to another without any problem, which never used to happen.
“There is no more shooting, we are now brothers, but have one enemy who we are determined to fight. If they come to kill AMISOM, we shall die with,” an elder vowed.
He said they don’t have any problem with AMISOM since they are even allowed to bring their children to the clinic for treatment.
He explained that people can even afford to move at night. “Even peace keepers can move freely in our areas,” he said.
The community members last month, April 28 they identified al Shabab fighters who had used a shortcut to enter into the town but worked together with the local militias and pursued them.
Bamwiseki said the enemies tried to lay some ambushes but AMISOM forces joined in the pursuit and after four hours, six attackers were killed and forced the rest to withdraw.
Muhammad Abdi-Kadir Bujeti thanked the peace keepers for helping them to stop fighting between each other\. He however appealed to the peace keepers to stay longer in their area to ensure the current peace prevails.