Uganda’s soldiers returning home from Somalia were on Tuesday given medals as recognition for their peace support operations in the Horn of Africa.
The medals which are given to all African Union soldiers ending their tour of duty in Somalia were this time given to Battle Group 18 which has been replaced by Ugabag 21.
The Special Representative of the African Union Commission Chairperson (SRCC) for Somalia, Ambassador Francisco Madeira, who presided over the award ceremony, thanked Uganda for deploying troops for the recent ten years to help stabilise Somalia.
“UPDF could have remained in Kampala and Luwero Triangle and elsewhere but understood very well that as long as Somalia [remained] what it was in 2007, Uganda would not be safe,” Mr Madeira said.
Uganda was the first country to deploy troops in Somalia in 2007 and 2010 al shabaab carried out suicide bomb attacks as retaliation for its troop presence in Mogadishu.
Currently, Uganda has over 6,000 troops whose role is to guard key government installations including presidential palace, parliament, airport and seaport.
“Let me take this opportunity to thank your country and thank all your colleagues from Uganda who started this Mission by sacrificing their lives,” Mr Madeira said.
The medals parade, the first of its kind, was attended by the AMISOM Force Commander Lt. Gen. Osman Noor Soubagleh, his deputy, Maj. Gen. Abreha Tesfaye and the Uganda Contingent Commander Brig. Kayanja Muhanga.
AMISOM Sector Commanders from Kenya, Burundi, Djibouti and the outgoing Deputy Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (SRCC) for Somalia, Lydia Wanyoto also attended the function.
“You have done your duty and we have to recognise your effort and that is why we have decorated you with those medals which, we think is enough recognition,” Lt. Gen. Osman Noor Soubagleh, the AMISOM Force commander said.
Col. Ronald Bigirwa, Battle Group 18 Commander thanked the AU for decorating his group with the medals in recognition of their peace enforcement contribution in Somalia.