Page last updated at 23:57 GMT, Friday, 13 November 2009

EU soldiers to help Somali troops

Somali soldiers
The Somali government hopes to build a 6,000-strong security force

The European Union is expected to endorse plans to send troops to help train up to 2,000 Somali troops, according to an EU official.

Under the plan, up to 200 EU troops will train Somali military personnel in Uganda in a bid to broaden engagement in the crisis-hit state.

A decision is expected to be taken at a meeting of EU ministers next week.

The move comes on the heels of a request by the Somali government to help build a 6,000-strong police force.

"Once this is approved, which we expect is going to happen during the (EU) council then we will be launching the real planning," said Cristina Gallach, spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana.

"We think that this is a very good contribution to the global approach that the European Union has in order to tackle the Somali problems and all of its impact."

The training plan is expected to last for roughly a year and will be carried out in two or three phases.

The move by the EU is expected to complement efforts made by France, Djibouti and Uganda who have all committed to training Somali troops.

Tough mission

Somalia has been gripped by fierce fighting since 2007 and the country has not had a strong central government since 1991.

More than 1.5 million people have been uprooted by the fighting which has claimed nearly 20,000 lives.

Western countries have pledged hundreds of millions of dollars to help the country develop its security forces and help restore order.

The EU is also running an anti-piracy mission in the water of the Gulf of Aden in a bid to clamp down on the number of attacks made by pirates over the last year.

Somali pirates are currently holding at least 13 ships and more than 230 crew hostage.

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