Mozambique: EU Approves Military Training Mission

Foreign Ministers from the European Union on 12 July agreed to set up a military training mission in Mozambique (EUTM Mozambique).

According to a press release from the Council of the European Union, the aim of the mission is to "train and support the Mozambican armed forces in protecting the civilian population and restoring safety and security in Cabo Delgado province". It added that the decision is in response to a request from the Mozambican government for assistance with maintaining peace and security.

The EUTM Mozambique mission will initially last for two years with the strategic objective of supporting capacity building in units of the Mozambican armed forces that will form a Quick Reaction Force. Among the areas that will be covered in the training are operational preparation, counter-terrorism, the protection of civilians, and compliance with international humanitarian law and human rights law.

The mission commander will be a French Vice Admiral, Hervé Bléjean. It will be led on the ground by a Portuguese Brigadier General, Nuno Lemos Pires. According to the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, between 200 and 300 personnel could be deployed by the end of the year, with Portugal providing half of the force.

The mission is part of an international effort to help Mozambique combat islamist terrorists who have been operating in the northern province of Cabo Delgado since October 2017. On 9 July, President Filipe Nyusi confirmed that Rwandan troops had arrived in the country to assist in countering the terrorists. According to a statement from the Rwandan government, a thousand members of the Rwandan armed forces and police will be sent to "support efforts to restore Mozambican state authority by conducting combat and security operations, as well as stabilisation and security sector reform".

Further military assistance is expected to arrive shortly from members of the Southern African Development Community, which has approved a budget of US$12 million for its Standby Force. Few details are available of what the SADC Standby Force Mission will be comprised of, but an arrival date of 15 July has been set.

In April a SADC Technical Mission recommended the immediate dispatch of an intervention force of almost 3,000 troops to Cabo Delgado. The detailed proposal was for three light infantry battalions of 630 troops each, two special forces squadrons of 70 troops each; two attack helicopters; two armed helicopters; two surface patrol ships; one submarine; one maritime surveillance aircraft as well as other logistical support.

The destabilisation caused by terrorism has forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee from their homes. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the number of people displaced due to terrorist attacks in Cabo Delgado increased from 172,000 in April 2020 to over 732,000 by the end of April 2021.

The OCHA warns that, as a result of the conflict, more than 900,000 people are severely food insecure and displaced people and host communities are also in urgent need of shelter, protection, and other services.

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