AFTER helping Mozambique quell the threat of Islamic State-linked jihadists, Rwanda is now training Mozambican army officers to build a more formidable military force to defend itself from any aggression.
Up to 150 Mozambican soldiers have just completed advanced training in the East African country. More are expected to undertake similar training.
This is the latest assistance to the Southern African country by Rwanda, which in 2021 deployed an intervention force in northern Mozambique to eliminate the insurgent group known as Ansar al-Sunna or Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jammah.
These militants had overrun Mozambique’s military in the Cabo Delgado province.
The Rwanda Security Forces (RSF), a combination of the Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) and the Rwanda National Police, played a prominent role in driving out the perpetrators since deployment in July 2021.
Briefing international journalists in the province, RDF spokesperson, Brigadier General Ronald Rwivanga, said his country was now assisting Mozambique bolster its army so it can withstand any future aggression.
He said those officers who had received the training would now be able to train other members of the Mozambican Armed Forces.
“We will expand it further. We will train trainers so they can be able to train others. That group will be able to transfer knowledge to many others,” Brig Gen Rwivanga said.
This is a major boost to Mozambique’s fight against insecurity.
South Africa has also deployed its troops into the Cabo Delgado region under the auspices of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Mission in Mozambique.
The South African National Defence Force is understood to have committed a force strength of 1 495 troops comprising personnel and assets from the Air Force, Army, Navy, Military Health Service and Special Forces.
Other SADC member states that deployed its troops are Angola, Botswana, Namibia and Tanzania.
Together with Rwanda and the Mozambican army, they have neutralised the jihadists. Normalcy has returned resulting in the rehabilitation of destroyed infrastructure.
Key infrastructure that has been rehabilitated include the Mocimboa da Praia Airport. It was destroyed when insurgents ran over the town.
The airport is receiving 13 flights a week, especially to deliver humanitarian supplies.
The Mocimboa da Praia Port is now in operation and cargo is now being delivered through the facility, which is on the shores of the Indian Ocean.
Schools, markets and shops have also reopened.
Villagers are now undertaking agricultural activity which had stopped due to the insurgency.
Rwivanga said about 87 percent of internally displaced people have since returned to their homes.
In interviews, some returnees thanked Rwanda for helping subdue the terrorists.
“I am now able to work and move freely here,” said a 26-year-old woman, who works as a human resources manager at a construction company in Mocimboa da Praia.
“I never thought I would return here. We thank Rwanda for what it did to us,” she added.
Another Mozambican woman, who was at a fish market in the town, said: “We are really grateful to the Rwanda military for coming to our rescue. The situation was very difficult but we are now safe and doing our daily work.”
Women, alongside children, have been impacted by the insurgents that have forced around 800 000 people from their homes since 2017.
Rwivanga said the insurgency has now been weakened to the extent that Ansar Al Sunnah wa Jammah no longer has the capacity to capture any territory.
As part of assisting communities, the Rwandan military routinely conducts community work (known in Rwanda as Umuganda) with residents and Mozambican Security Forces.
In addition, the Rwandan forces also carry out a medical outreach programme during which they treat people of different ailments, including malaria, which is endemic in the region.
More than 250 patients were treated in one outreach program conducted in Mocimboa da Praia a fortnight ago.
Since the RSF were deployed in July 2021 they have engaged in humanitarian activities such as providing emergency medical care to civilians, at their field hospital in Afungi, in Palma District, and other far off remote areas.
The RSF base camp in Afungi has a Level 2 hospital with all the elements of Level 1 and additional facilities such as an intensive care unit and specialist doctors for gynaecology and paediatric services.
from KELVIN JAKACHIRA in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique
– CAJ News