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Ugandan soldiers from Battle Group 9+, a contingent serving under the African Union Peacekeeping Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) have today (May 18, 2013) completed their tour of duty and have begun returning home.
The group is mostly made up of mostly reservists from the Ugandan People’s Defence Force (UPDF) were called back to service in April 2012, to join ranks in the fight against the Al Qaeda linked extremist group al Shabaab.
Under the command of Colonel Stephen Mugerwa, Battle Group 9+ succeeded in pushing the al Shabaab insurgents out of Mogadishu and increasing the area of government operation by 120 kilometers from Masilah to Jowhar and Huriwa to Port Elman.
"AMISOM is doing a good job because as pan-Africans we have to assist, to come and intervene if your neighbour has a problem,” say Colonel Stephen Mugerwa. “You have to come to assist so that also your neighbour gets peace."
After 13 months of service, these men and women are going back home to their lives as civilians, till the nation and the contingent calls on them next. Corporal Mulabbi Ernest is happy to return to his family and says it was not an easy task, but he is glad to be alive.
“I thought I would die here. I have done everything, it seems the almighty still loves me. That is why he has decided I go back."
The soldiers were awarded AU peacekeeping medals in a farewell ceremony held at Mogadishu International Airport and attended by Brigadier General Michael Ondoga, Ugandan Contingent Commander, and senior AMISOM officials.
"This battle group 9+, the majority of the force is composed of reservists who had retired from the army very honourably and had gone home to do other things, also contribute to nation building in another way. We called them because most of them as you can see are still strong,” says Brigadier General Michael Ondoga. “We called them to come and also contribute to peace building here. They came and contrary to the expectations of many people who thought maybe because they had become civilians and now had lost military bearing, they will not be able to match up to the expectations, but surprisingly they have done very well."
The peace and security that was established by Battle Group 9+ through its area of operations created conditions for infrastructure and economic development in a country that is recovering from 22 years of conflict.
This stability and security saw local people begin to return to their homes from internally displaced camps (IDPs), the extension of free medical treatment, beginning of road repairs, provision of clean drinking water and the return of large scale farming.
As Battle 9+ leaves Somalia, they are replaced by Group 11+, the second batch of army reserves from the Ugandan Deference Force under the command of Colonel Hassan Kimbow, to help build on the peace and stability that their compatriots have achieved.
AMISOM’s ranks currently boast of troops from Sierra Leone, Burundi, Djibouti, Kenya as well as Uganda.

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