The European Union will offer Mozambique support in addressing a wave of militant attacks in the country’s north by rebels with links to international terrorist groups, the EU’s ambassador to the southern African nation informed via his Twitter micro blog on October 9. Militant attacks in Cabo Delgado grew by 300% in the first four months of 2020, compared to the same period last year, according to Amnesty International.
The rebel attacks in Cabo Delgado province date back to 2017 but the violence has gathered pace this year with insurgents seizing important towns for brief periods and hitting military and other strategic targets.
Mozambique had asked the EU for help in training its armed forces to battle the insurgency, which has raised fears for stability and security in southern Africa.
“The government of Mozambique has asked for help and we will give, but it is more aid in terms of training, logistics and medical services for the forces that are fighting terrorism in northern Mozambique,” the EU’s ambassador to Maputo, Antonio Sánchez Gaspar, said.
“So far all of our efforts have been on the humanitarian emergency and development side. We will continue to make efforts on the security side, which is just beginning,” he said.
Rights group Amnesty International last month accused Mozambican soldiers of committing atrocities in the northern conflict zone, but the defence ministry dismissed the reports, saying militants regularly impersonated soldiers.
A growing Islamist insurgency in northern Mozambique entered its fourth year this week, with experts saying there is no end in sight for a conflict that has killed and displaced thousands of people.
Since the first attack in 2017 by al-Shabaab in the province of Cabo Delgado, militants have taken control of territory in the northern province, including a strategic port, and burned down dozens of villages. Al-Shabaab is considered the Mozambique affiliate of Islamic State.
The United Nations says the violence has forced over 300,000 people to flee their homes, seeking refuge in safer parts of Cabo Delgado and neighboring provinces. More than 2,000 people have been killed since the beginning of the conflict.
The Republic of Mozambique has a very young and rural-based population. Since the end of the 15 year long civil war, Mozambique has had a high economic growth rate linked to economic reform and the revival of the agriculture, transportation, and tourism sectors. The country is highly exposed to climate hazards, such as droughts, floods, and coastal storms, and will need to adapt to climate change.
Mozambique’s development is expected to improve thanks to the country’s important reserves of coal and natural gas provided that security and stability are achieved in these regions