Ugandan soldiers under the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) are yet to receive $14.2m (about sh52b) in unpaid allowances for seven months.
The 2,450 troops under Battle Group 26 left Uganda for Somalia in December last year and each gets $728 (about sh2.6m) per month.
Payment is made directly by the AU to the Government of Uganda and onto individual bank accounts of the soldiers by Bank of Uganda. On Monday, a relative of one of the affected soldiers told Saturday Vision that his brother is one of those who have not received the allowances and yet he has a family to take care of back home.
Army spokesman Brig. Richard Karemire confirmed that the soldiers had not received their allowances, but asked them to be patient.
“We have to wait for the AU to release the money. Where there are some delays like this, we communicate to our soldiers to be patient and that is what we have been doing. What I am sure of is that even if their allowances have delayed, they will all be paid once” Karemire said.
He said some of the soldiers get loans promising to repay at least every after two months and when their allowances delay they get disappointed.
“The soldiers are provided basic needs in the camp, including food, accommodation, clothing and medical care. Their salaries are promptly paid by the Government,” Karemire added.
Following years of political instability and recurring conflicts, in February 2007, the UN Security Council authorized AU to deploy AMISOM in order to promote long-term peace, security and effective governance.
Ugandan soldiers make up the bulk of AMISOM, which has helped Somalia’s fragile internationally-backed government battle Islamist militant group al-Shabaab. It has helped push al-Shabaab out of most of Somalia’s major towns, but the militants continue to carry out deadly attacks in the capital and other parts of the country.
However, AMISOM is to be gradually drawn back as Somalia’s embryonic armed forces are trained and deployed to replace them.