By Our Reporter
The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has awarded medals and certificates to Ugandan soldiers for their contribution to the ongoing peacebuilding process in Somalia.
The soldiers, from battle group 29, were awarded medals at a ceremony presided over by the AMISOM force Commander, Lt. Gen. Diomede Ndegeya and attended by senior AMISOM military officers and the Contingent Commander of Ugandan troops in Somalia, Brig. Gen. Don William Nabasa.
The soldiers who deployed to the mission in December 2019 under the command of Col. Edward Kaddu, are due to rotate out of the mission, having completed their tour of duty and will be replaced by Battle Group 32, commanded by Col. Jonathan Ojok Ochom.
Lt. Gen. Ndegeya praised the soldiers, who were tasked with securing the coastal town of Barawe and the surrounding areas, for their steadfastness in the implementation of the mission.
“UPDF battle group 29 secured the airfield of Barawe, protected key population centres especially Embresso and Barawe towns, mentored Somali National Army through joint operations and training, and secured main supply routes,” said Lt. Gen. Diomede Ndegeya. Present at the function was the AMISOM deputy force commander in charge operations and plans, Maj. Gen. William Kitsao Shume.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, only a section of the soldiers took part in the symbolic event held at the Uganda contingent headquarters in Mogadishu, Somalia on Saturday.
Lt. Gen. Ndegeya particularly paid glowing tribute to soldiers who lost their lives in the line of duty for their resilience and unwavering courage, to ensure that peace and stability returns to Somalia.
“Allow me to pay special tribute to our gallant soldiers who lost their lives in their efforts to help pacify Somalia. Their lives were not lost in vain since remarkable stability has been realized in this country. Please continue securing humanity because there is nothing more noble than being a peace emissary,” the Force Commander urged.
Battle Group 29 has been responsible for securing Barawe sub-sector, and part of their exploits included taking part in an offensive in March 2020 that led to the capture of Janaale from the militant group Al-Shabaab, and generally keeping the Lower Shabelle region safe, a job many who took part are proud of.
“I am grateful to have been part of the team serving in Somalia. Also, I am happy about the medal because it is my first medal ever,” said Captain Judith Ninsiima, who worked as a Staff Officer in the intelligence division.
Apart from conducting military offensives to degrade the Al-Shabaab, the soldiers also helped win the hearts and minds of the local communities by implementing a number of quick impact projects like delivering scholastic materials and COVID-19 personal protective equipment and sanitary supplies
to communities, rehabilitating the Embresso-Barawe main supply route, and clearing their area of responsibility of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), amidst challenges brought about by the global pandemic COVID-19.
“The one year and four months period in the mission area has been quite a testing and challenging experience. However, Battle Group 29 managed to adapt, and it achieved. The battle group also mentored the Somali national army and Somali police force through joint fighting patrols, which helped boost their morale and confidence while executing their duties,” said battle group 29 commander, Col. Edward Kaddu.
“Thank you for your distinguished contribution towards peace and stability within the Lower Shabelle for the last 15 months or so. Battle group 29 has exhibited a high degree of professionalism and discipline including strict observance of COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures,” said AMISOM Uganda contingent commander Brig. Nabasa.
Brig. Nabasa later presided over a handover ceremony in which Col. Kaddu handed over instruments of power to Col. Jonathan Ochom.