A total of 1,819 Burundian troops of the 44th and 45th battalions have started to replace the 38th and 39th battalions serving in the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), the Burundian army spokesman said Tuesday.

“Some troops have already departed to Somalia, but a big number of them flew today morning to Somalia,” said Burundian Army Spokesman Colonel Gaspard Baratuza.

Baratuza said the work of Burundian troops serving in the AMISOM is “commendable,” while their “successful” mission faces several challenges.

Burundi is a main contributor of troops in the AMISOM.

The failure to pay Burundian peacekeepers’ salaries for 12 months had previously forced the Burundian government to threaten to withdraw its troops from Somalia.

The salary arrears issue was only solved following the visit, earlier this year, of Commissioner for Peace and Security for the African Union (AU) Smail Chergui.

Since December 2007, the east African nation has deployed six rotating battalions comprising about 5,500 troops in Somalia.