The European Union granted Mozambique’s request for assistance in tackling attacks in the country’s north by rebels with links to Islamic State, the EU delegation in the southern African country said.
Militant attacks in Cabo Delgado province date back to 2017 but violence gathered pace this year, with insurgents seizing towns for brief periods and hitting military and other key targets.
Mozambique wrote to the EU in September asking for help in training its armed forces to battle the insurgency.
The EU delegation statement said the bloc would grant Mozambique’s request for help with “logistics for training and technical training in several specific areas, as well as assistance in addressing humanitarian challenges, including medical services” dealing with the coronavirus outbreak.
The UN World Food Programme says more than 300,000 people fled violence in Cabo Delgado.
Zenaida Machado, a researcher at global rights group Human Rights Watch, said in a note EU ambassador to Mozambique, Antonio Sanchez-Benedito Gaspar, ruled out sending in European troops.
Machado said the EU would require “verifiable commitments from the Mozambican security forces to respect human rights in its operations and hold violators accountable” before providing military support.
Mozambique last month denied accusations by rights group Amnesty International that soldiers committed atrocities, saying the acts were carried out by Islamist insurgents impersonating troops.
If it happens, EU security assistance would be the first official international intervention specifically aimed at assisting Maputo fight insurgents in Cabo Delgado, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED).
ACLED, which uses various data sources to map and quantify political violence across Africa, identified scores of incidents of fighting in the first week of October in the Palma, Muidumbe and Macomia districts.