Southern Africa bloc to send standby force to Mozambique

By Rodrigue Forku

YAOUNDE, Cameroon (AA) – The Southern African Development Community (SADC) on Wednesday approved deployment of a standby force to restore peace in Mozambique.

The force will be deployed in support of Mozambique to combat terrorism and acts of violent extremism in the northernmost Cabo Delgado province, according to a statement issued after the SADC's extraordinary summit.

Some 70,000 people have fled the conflict in Mozambique's Palma town since March 24, bringing the total number of displaced in Cabo Delgado to nearly 800,000, the UN said earlier this month.

The extraordinary summit of the heads of state and government of SADC was held at Joaquim Chissano International Conference Centre in the capital Maputo.

The summit urged the member states to continue providing humanitarian support to the population affected by the terrorist attacks in Cabo Delgado, including the internally displaced people.

Local al-Shabaab terrorist group has wreaked havoc in northern Mozambique since late 2017, killing hundreds of people, displacing communities and capturing towns.

The northern province of Mozambique is rich in natural gas, and companies such as France's Total SE are there to extract liquefied natural gas from offshore sites in the Indian Ocean, but experts say such attacks could derail the project.

Investments by Total and others are estimated at $23 billion, one of the largest investments on the continent.

The Mozambican Oil and Gas Chamber said in a recent statement that these attacks are directed at disrupting investment in oil and gas projects in the southern African country and terrorizing the local population.