The Kigali government stated that it was deployed at the request of the Mozambican authorities to restore state control in the provinces affected by the conflict.

Rwanda has begun to deploy 1,000 powerful troops to Mozambique to help it fight the deteriorating violence in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, which is rich in natural gas resources.

The announcement on Friday was made after the 16-member Southern African Development Community (SADC) approved the deployment of joint forces last month to help Mozambique cope with the conflict that has lasted for nearly four years. About 3,000 people were killed and nearly 800,000 people were displaced, half of whom were children.

The Rwandan government said in a statement that Rwandan soldiers from non-SADC members will fight alongside Mozambican and SADC troops.

“The Rwandan contingent will support efforts to restore Mozambique’s national authority through combat and security operations and stability and security sector reforms,” ​​it added.

Ronald Rwivanga, spokesman for the Rwandan Defence Forces, told Reuters that the new force will be fully deployed on Saturday.

He said that the Rwanda contingent is composed of police forces and members of the police who have received training in “handling terrorism and security related issues” in Cape Delgado.

Alexandre Raymakers, an African analyst at the UK-based global risk consulting firm Verisk Maplecroft, said he believes that Rwanda’s task force can be used to protect critical liquefied natural gas (LNG) sites to attract international investors.

He said: “The Rwandan security forces are known for being a powerful fighting force.”

However, he added that “the existence of multiple military missions in the form of potential Rwandan contingents and SADC may cause conflicts and frictions at the military command level and hinder overall development.”

Since October 2017, attacks by an armed group known locally as Al-Shabaab have steadily increased in Cabo Delgado Province.

The complexity of the attack has also increased.

Combatants associated with ISIL ransacked towns and controlled key roads, destroyed infrastructure and beheaded civilians. In some cases, they forced locals to join their ranks or treated them as sex slaves.

Since August 2020, these militants have been controlling the important port city of Mocimboa da Praia. In March, they launched a coordinated attack on the town of Palma, causing dozens of deaths and displacement of tens of thousands of people, while also forcing France Energy company Total suspends its US$20 billion LNG project.

The government has deployed thousands of soldiers to Cape Delgado to fight militants, but analysts have long warned that the Mozambican army has historically been weak, inadequately trained, and inadequately equipped.

The World Food Program warned that the hunger crisis is intensifying as nearly 1 million people need food aid.


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