UPDF troops serving in Somalia unpaid for 10 months

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In what could wreck the fight against Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia, it’s now emerging that the Uganda People’s Defense Forces [UPDF] contingent serving under African Union Mission in Somalia [AMISOM] has not been paid for 10 months.

A meeting between the team from the Defense Committee of the Ugandan parliament and the Ministry of Defense exposed the current situation on Monday afternoon, raising questions about the commitment from international partners.

Jacob Oboth, the minister for defense appeared before the committee during the presentation of estimates for the 2022/23 budget. Usually, troops contributing nations factor the payments in the budget before the money is recovered from donations done by European Union and the UN.

Bukanga South MP Stephen Kangwagye tasked the ministry to respond to claims that the soldiers serving in Somalia had not been paid for over two years. Uganda has close to 4,500 soldiers serving under AMISOM in the Horn of Africa nation.

But in response, Edith Butuuro, the Under Secretary of the Ministry of Defence dismissed the reports that the troops had not been paid their allowances for two years. Instead, she says, they are demanding payments from March 2021.

“The money we pay to our troops is allocated to us by the African Union-AU and it follows certain understandings, legal frameworks, and budgetary frameworks,” she noted.

“So we follow what these documents provide,” Butuuro said. She added that for the months before March 2021, the troops were paid allowances on top of their salaries from the Government of Uganda that is not in arrears.

Some of the other troops contributing to nations other than Uganda include Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Burundi. The five countries have close to 22,000 soldiers in Somalia and could soon be reconfigured after a partnership with the United Nations.

Al-Shabaab still remains a threat in the country, with official reports showing that the group has killed over 5,000 people in Somalia and across the borders. The presence of AMISOM has significantly stabilized the country.