Former colony has been fighting off terrorists for six years
Portugal’s defence minister, Helena Carreiras, has been in Maputo, Mozambique, today defending the continuity of the European Union Training Mission (EUTM-MOZ), which has helped the country fight off terrorist attacks for the last six years.
Ms Carreiras told reporters: “We continue to share the idea that there should be continuity in this mission, which is now being re-evaluated (…) We have already been working with our partners, sharing what is also Mozambique’s position, in the sense that this mission should continue, whether in this form or in a revised form”.
EUTM-MOZ is due to assess the future of its presence in Mozambique by the end of this year. It has already trained around 60 Mozambican instructors who will continue training up special forces to help fight rebels in Cabo Delgado, in the north of the country.
As well as providing operational training for the rapid reaction forces (QRF), EUTM-MOZ has also supplied combat equipment to the members of these units, with the value of the material support already exceeding €80 million.
“But the most important thing is that we all understand and believe that (…) we need to capitalise on and take advantage of the effort that has already been invested in training 11 companies, expanding this work in the area of consolidating and maintaining this operational cycle, both from the point of view of training and equipment itself,” said Ms Carreiras.
EUTM-MOZ’s current mandate (lasting until September 2024) provided for the training of 11 Mozambican QRF units, each with a composition equivalent to a military company.
The current mission is made up of a contingent of 117 people, 65 of whom are from Portugal, the country that has also taken over command of EUTM-MOZ.
“We will continue to support the prospect of a renewal or review of this mission in order to capitalise on the work that has been done,” said the defence minister.
According to her Mozambican counterpart Cristóvão Chume, the situation on the ground shows progress, with government forces in control of areas most affected by rebel attacks in Cabo Delgado.
“For us, the barometer of stability in Cabo Delgado is the number of people who are returning to their areas of origin (…),” he said, also highlighting Portugal’s openness when Mozambique first asked for international support.
“We reiterate our gratitude for the international effort that has been made to support Mozambique in the fight against terrorism (…) Portugal was one of the first countries to appear on the ground when Mozambique asked for international support and began training the marines and commandos,” he said.
The province of Cabo Delgado has been facing an armed insurgency for six years, with some attacks claimed by Islamic State and its affiliates.
The insurgency has led to a military response, supported since July 2021 by Rwanda and the SADC, which has made it possible to liberate districts near gas projects, while new waves of attacks have emerged in the south of the region and the neighbouring province of Nampula.
The conflict has already displaced one million people, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), causing around 4,000 deaths, according to the ACLED conflict registration project.