Kampala. Ugandan soldiers in Somalia operations have not been paid for several months, which has sparked rage and grumbling among the rank and file of the peacekeeping troops.
According to sources in African Union Mission for Somalia (Amisom), the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) troops under Uganda Battle Group 14, have not received their wages for nine months.
UPDF in Somalia
Uganda has three Battle Groups in Somalia, including Ugabag 14, 15 and 16, whose detach in Janaale was attacked on Tuesday by al-Shabaab, who inflicted heavy casualties on the Ugandan peace troops.
For Ugandan Amisom soldiers under Ugabag 15, which deployed in Somalia in October last year, have not been paid for five months.
The UPDF spokesperson, Lt Col Paddy Ankunda, confirmed the Ugandan Amisom soldiers had not been paid but put the outstanding arrears to five months, not nine as sources told this newspaper.
Last week, while visiting Ugandan troops in Arbiska and Marka, south of Mogadishu, the deputy Chief of Defence Forces, Lt Gen Charles Angina, hinted on logistical challenges for the troops.
“I came to assess the Force’s morale and level of combat readiness in performing their duties in Amisom and United Nations Guard Force. I also came to address issues of their facilitations. There are a few challenges but these can be managed over a time. I am glad the Forces have maintained morale,” Lt Gen Angina said in a statement issued by Amisom.
The European Union (EU) pays allowances for all Amisom peacekeeping troops in Somalia through the African Peace Facility, while the United Nations (UN) pays for logistics, including food, transport and reimburses troop-contributing countries for tear and wear of the military hardware.
The EU releases money to AU, which channels it to troop-contributing countries to pay their soldiers. In July last year, EU released €750 million ($1 billion or Shs3.3 trillion) to Amisom.
Soldiers are paid a mission allowance of $1,028 (about Shs3.7m) every month and government deducts an administration cost of $200 (about Shs730,000), meaning each soldier takes home a net of $828 (about Shs3m).
Since 2004, the EU has provided more than €1.2 billion ($1.6 billion) to Somalia peace operations.
Uganda has the biggest contingent of soldiers in Somalia and a number of police personnel.