UAE condemns seizure of jet in Somalia with $10 million on board

Ministry of Foreign Affairs said 47 Emirati armed forces personnel were on the plane at the time, some of which were held at gunpoint and assaulted

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The UAE has condemned the seizure of its civilian aircraft carrying millions of dollars by authorities in Somalia.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said that the jet was seized at Mogadishu airport on Sunday carrying US$9.6 million in cash allocated to support the Somali army. The UAE has been supporting Somalia’s armed forces for years, as part of its efforts to bring stability to the fragile state.

Forty-seven UAE armed forces personnel were on board the plane and some were held at gunpoint and assaulted by Somali security forces, state news agency Wam reported.

This action is an illegal step that "contradicts the established diplomatic norms and traditions between countries and is a serious breach of the provisions of the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the two countries in November 2014," it continued.

It went on to say that the UAE "deplores this violation of international law and norms, at a time when the UAE has provided all kinds of political, economic, military and humanitarian support in the darkest conditions to establish security and stability in the Somali Federal Republic."

The UAE has taken a lead in efforts to stabilise Somalia, which has grappled with lawlessness and been regarded as a 'failed state' for more than two decades, and sought to coordinate post-conflict reconstruction.

The foreign affairs ministry has led the re-establishment of diplomatic ties between the UAE and Somalia and has overseen the opening of the UAE Embassy in Mogadishu in 2013.

Between 2011 and 2015, the Emirates provided more than $135 million in humanitarian and development assistance to the Somali government.

This included supporting infrastructure, capacity building and the development of political institutions.

The UAE has developed hospitals, clinics, schools, and water wells for various regions and supported the fight against the extremist militia Al Shabab by equipping and training the Somali presidential guard and national army.