What you need to know:
- The bloc will from July 15 send forces to the troubled northern region of Mozambique, initially for three months.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) says it will deploy troops to Mozambique from next week, shortly after Rwanda announced it had already sent a 1,000-strong force to help counter an insurgency in Cabo Delgado Province.
A statement released on Friday said the bloc will from July 15 send forces to the troubled northern region of Mozambique, initially for three months, and that it had asked the UN Security Council to endorse the decision.
In Rwanda, officials said 1,000 troops of the Rwanda Defence Force and the Rwanda National Police will be deployed to Mozambique to tackle escalating violence in Cabo Delgado.
Thousands have been killed and others displaced due to insecurity in the gas-rich region since 2017 after terror attacks linked to Islamic militants who go by the name al-Shabaab, although they have no known links to the Somalia-based terrorist group by the same name.
The deployment, which is under a bilateral arrangement, follows an April visit to Rwanda by Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi.
“The Rwandan contingent will support efforts to restore Mozambican State authority by conducting combat and security operations, as well as stabilisation and security-sector reform (SSR)…," a government statement released on Friday says.
Rwandan troops will join forces with troops deployed under SADC, which agreed in June to send an unspecified number under an ‘intervention brigade’ to Mozambique to combat terrorism and acts of violent extremism in the region.
SADC had initially rejected deployment of forces from other countries to Mozambique, calling instead for technical support for local security forces.
So far, the US and Portugal, non-SADC members, have deployed smaller contingents to focus on training Mozambican forces on fighting insurgents.
The SADC mission will, among other objectives, “support the Republic of Mozambique in the fight against acts of terrorism and extremist violence, and support the country in restoring the rule of law in Cabo Delgado,” the bloc’s statement said.
Southern African countries on Monday approved a budget of $ 12 million for the deployment of troops to help fight the insurgency.
The announcement was made by the Angolan foreign affairs minister, who addressed journalists after a virtual meeting of 16 members of SADC’s Council of Ministers.
“This is what was analysed today. The total budget is S$12 million. It is subdivided into items and sources of financing," Téte António said.
“The sources of financing for this force is made up of a contingency fund and contributions from member States,” he added without disclosing how many each country will contribute for the mission.
“This deployment is based on the good bilateral relations between Rwanda and Mozambique, following the signing of several agreements between the two countries in 2018, and is grounded in Rwanda’s commitment to the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine and the 2015 Kigali Principles on the Protection of Civilians,” an official statement issued in Kigali said on Friday.
The insurgents in Mozambique have been adopting a more horrid kind of terror, beheading children and embarking on scorch-earth policy to destroy installations in their week.
They forced Total, one of the foreign firms exploiting gas resources in the area to suspend operations and evacuate their foreign expats.
A summit held in Maputo, hosted by President Nyusi, urged member States, in collaboration with humanitarian agencies, to continue providing support to the population affected by the terrorist attacks, including internally displaced persons.
The northern province of Cabo Delgado, which borders Tanzania, has a population of 1,893,156 spread over its 77,867km² in 16 districts.
Attacks began in October 2017 on police stations in Mocimboa da Praia District, then spread to other districts in the northern part of Cabo Delgado, notably in Macomia, Palma and Nangade.
Islamic State-linked militants launched attacks on the north eastern coastal town of Palma on March 24, ransacked buildings and beheaded civilians.
They have launched a series of brazen raids on towns and villages in an apparent bid to establish an Islamic caliphate.
The summit also addressed the Covid-19 pandemic, urging all SADC citizens to continue adhering to preventive measures, and for the end of vaccine nationalism for the sake of equal access by all countries.