The President of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, has granted all Eritrea–trained Somali National Army (SNA) troops permission to leave and see their families. The President announced the decision during his visit to the soldiers at the Aden Adde International Airport in Mogadishu. The troops just arrived back in their homeland from Eritrea.
A portion of these troops had been in Eritrea for over four years, while others moved there at the beginning of 2023. The decision to grant leave to all troops is due to the belief that some soldiers may not wish to continue their service, and others have endured long separation from their families.
Addressing the troops, President Hassan Sheikh stated, “You are all being granted leave to be with your families, wherever they may be. I believe one month is sufficient for the farthest soldier to reunite with their family and return. I want you to feel that you are here by your own choice and for the best interests of your country.”
He assured the troops that the government would do its utmost to provide necessary support during their leave, including salary and bonuses. Additionally, the soldiers would receive regular monthly payments starting immediately.
President Hassan Sheikh emphasised the importance of freedom of choice, urging the troops to feel free in their decision to serve their country. He reiterated that Somalia is their homeland, and the government’s principle is to ensure that people feel free and empowered.
During the previous deployment of Eritrea-trained forces, over 2,700 soldiers returned to Somalia. Unfortunately, after a few months, many deserted from the army, citing mistreatment and a lack of government support.
The government recognised the potential loss of well-trained soldiers if similar grievances arose among the current batch. It is, therefore, crucial for the government to ensure the troops receive fair treatment, as this is a critical period in which they need to combat al-Shabaab.
Hassan Sheikh’s recent visit to Eritrea
The troops’ arrival follows Hassan Sheikh’s recent inspection in Eritrea recently. On 8 October, the Somali President embarked on a working trip to Eritrea, strengthening security ties between the two countries. Part of this cooperation also includes training special units of the SNA by the Republic of Eritrea.