UPDF soldiers in Somalia

A contingent of Ugandan soldiers has been feted by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) for distinguished service, at a medal awards ceremony held in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu.
The soldiers, who have completed their tour of duty, are part of battle group 21 of the Uganda People’s Defence Force who were tasked with securing Mogadishu and neighbouring regions.
The AMISOM Deputy Force Commander in charge of Support and Logistics, Maj. Gen. Salvator Harushimana, while commending the outgoing troops, reiterated the commitment of the African Union towards ensuring a safer and stable Somalia. He lauded he troops for performing their duties with diligence. “During their stay, they performed their duties with dedication and a high level of professionalism. They did not only represent Uganda well but also made the African Continent proud,” Maj. Gen. Harushimana noted.
The Deputy Force Commander said the battle group participated in many operations, ranging from conducting combat operations against the Al-Shabaab to securing the Main Supply Routes, by conducting regular patrols and escorting vehicles carrying humanitarian relief aid.
Uganda’s Deputy Ambassador to Somalia, Maj. General Nathan Mugisha, who was the chief guest at the medal awards ceremony, called for more investment in social amenities critical for the survival of the populations to help supplement efforts being made by the military to stabilize the country.
Maj. Gen. Mugisha also noted that there is need to enhance governance, justice and rule of law and humanitarian support in liberated areas to enable residents lead a normal life.
He commended the Somali National Army for remaining resolute in face of multiple challenges and urged the international community to aid the force in its efforts to secure the country.
“I would like to thank our friendly forces, with whom we have been fighting here trying to bring peace to Somalia; the many contingents. But also the Somali National Army with whom we have really struggled, given the fact that they are less provided, given the fact that they have so many challenges; we thank them and we encourage them to maintain the spirit,” Maj. Gen. Mugisha stated.
The Contingent Commander of the Ugandan troops, Brig. General Paul Lokech, applauded the outgoing troops for their selfless service commitment to secure the Horn of Africa country.
Said Brig. Gen. Lokech; “You have shown the international world that Africa can make it possible. When we were coming here in 2007, we were told by the Western media that this mission would fail on arrival; but today, its 10 years and we still moving forward, carrying the flag of the African mission, and carrying the flag of Uganda.”
Brig. Lokech also paid tribute to fallen soldiers who lost their lives in the quest for peace in Somalia saying they will forever be remembered for their bravery. “To all our comrades who died in combat, they died for a purpose and we shall never, ever forget them,” he said.
In his remarks, the battle group commander, Col. Chris Ogwal, commended his troops and their counterparts from the Somali National Army for their diligence and commitment to service.
Col Ogwal appealed for more investment in quick impact projects, noting that the lack of basic health services presents the biggest challenge to improving living standards of the Somali population.
“I want to thank the Somali people, especially the people we interacted with, the civilian leadership in the areas where we were working; local leaders, the police and the military personnel. In this area, I really want to give thanks to Afgoye police and the police in Lafoole,” Col Chris Ogwal stated, adding that the officers in the two police stations had been very cooperative and were always available to help in times of need.

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