Somali President announces the start of the return of his country’s soldiers from Eritrea

Agence France-Presse:

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud announced on Monday that the Somali military, who have been training for months in Eritrea, will start returning to their country in the coming days.

For months, rumors have been circulating in Somalia that those soldiers who went to Eritrea to participate in training were secretly sent with Eritrean forces to neighboring Ethiopia to fight in the Tigray region alongside Addis Ababa’s forces against the rebels.

In a forum organized by Somali expatriates in the United States during his visit to this country, Mahmoud said that “before the end of December, they will start returning and in January their return will be fully completed.”

He added, according to a video recording of his statement broadcast by the official media in Mogadishu, “We have organized all arrangements related to this matter, and God willing, there will be no delay anymore.”

And Mahmoud, who promised during his election campaign in the spring to return these soldiers to their country, paid a visit in July to Eritrea, where he inspected his forces in training camps.

At the end of the era of his predecessor, Mahmoud Muhammad Abdullah, nicknamed Farmajo, the families of these soldiers raised their voices in protest, after their children had no news of them and rumors spread that they had been sent to fight in Tigray.

The soldiers’ families demanded that the authorities provide information about the fate of their children and to return them to their homeland.

Last year, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Eritrea, Mohamed Abdel Salam Babiker, drew attention to the existence of “reports of the transfer of Somali soldiers from military training camps in Eritrea to the front lines in Tigray, where they accompany Eritrean forces,” supporting the Ethiopian federal forces in their war against the Tigray rebels.

In late May, Farmajo announced that his government had sent about five thousand soldiers to train in Eritrea, stressing that their training ended last year, but he decided to postpone their return to avoid obstructing the legislative and presidential elections.

The Ethiopian government and the Tigray rebels signed a peace agreement on November 2 in South Africa to end a two-year war that caused a serious humanitarian crisis in northern Ethiopia.

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