US-Uganda arms aiding Al-Shabaab, says NGO

Sunday January 24 2010

By Risdel Kasasira

Kampala
A new report by Amnesty International has suggested that unregulated arms supplies to the Transitional Federal Government in Somalia may be finding their way into the hands of its opponents including the militant Islamist fighters- Al Shabaab.

The report also accuses Uganda, Ethiopia and Yemen of supplying the TFG- outside of the United Nations regulatory regime, which has imposed an arms embargo on Somalia.

“International arms supplies to TFG forces have increased during 2009. The UN Monitoring Group on Somalia has reported since 2006 that TFG forces have received arms and ammunition from the three states without those states having applied for exemptions to the UN arms embargo from the UN Sanctions Committee on Somalia,” the report says.

However the report also says there are no guarantees that arms supplied are properly accounted for by the TFG and says major diversions of arms or money for arms have already occurred. “TFG lacks the capacity to prevent the diversion of substantial quantities of its own weaponry and military equipment to other armed groups and to Somalia’s domestic arms markets” the report notes arguing that without safeguards of arms supplies there could be human rights abuses.

Defence and Army Spokesman Lt. Col Felix Kulayigye, however, told Inside Politics Uganda does not technically arm the TFG and that the embargo on arms has been lifted with regards to AMISOM, the African Union force in Somalia. Uganda and Burundi supply the only troops that make up AMISOM.

Shipped supplies
According- to the report however substantial US-funded arms supplies have been shipped from Uganda to Mogadishu for TFG forces since May 2009. In August 2009, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton publicly pledged military support for Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed’s government, and a State Department spokesperson stated that the US government intended to supply the TFG some 40 tons of military weaponry and equipment.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently- Uganda has offered TFG supplies in return for reimbursements from the State Department.

Amnesty recommends a moratorium on all arms supplies until there are mechanisms in place to prevent “such material assistance from being used in committing serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.”

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