Southern African countries set to send troops to Mozambique

On Wednesday, Southern African countries approved the deployment of troops to northern Mozambique to combat an insurrection.

At an extra-ordinary conference in Maputo, Mozambique’s capital, the 16 countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) supported a plan to send a regional force to Cabo Delgado province, the epicenter of the growing terrorist assaults.

According to the communique, the “summit endorsed the recommendations of the chairperson of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation and approved the mandate of the SADC Standby Force Mission to the Republic of Mozambique to be deployed in support of Mozambique to combat terrorism and acts of violent extremism in Cabo Delgado”.

The timeframe of the deployment and the quantity of troops were not specified in the communique. 

A SADC technical committee comprised of military and intelligence officials from South Africa, Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe requested the deployment of 3,000 troops to Mozambique in April, following a deadly attack on the town of Palma. 

Over 800,000 people have been displaced by the Cabo Delgado insurrection, which is jeopardizing regional gas developments.

President Filipe Nyusi of Mozambique was believed to be apprehensive about foreign troops on the ground, and Wednesday’s resolution brought an end to weeks of discussions among regional leaders over how to combat the threat of terrorism in the region.

The summit also “urged the member states, in collaboration with humanitarian agencies, to continue providing humanitarian support to the population affected by terrorist attacks, the Cabo Delgado, including the internally displaced persons”, the communique said.

The Ansar al-Sunna group, known locally as Al-Shabaab — which is not affiliated to terrorists in Somalia by the same name — has been laying siege to Cabo Delgado since 2017, but the battle has escalated in recent months. 

Neighboring countries fear that if the terrorist assaults in Mozambique are not stopped, they will spread to their own countries. Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Tanzania are also seeing an inflow of refugees fleeing the conflict.

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