Rwanda has sent the first contingent of 1,000 troops to help fight an Islamic State-linked insurgency in northern Mozambique's Cabo Delgado Province.
The deployment of the Rwanda Defence Force and the Rwanda National Police, under a bilateral agreement, follows a visit by Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi to Kigali in April this year.
“The Rwandan contingent will support efforts to restore Mozambican State authority by conducting combat and security operations, as well as stabilisation and security-sector reform,” a government statement released on Friday says.
Thousands have been killed and others displaced due to insecurity in the gas-rich region since 2017 after terror attacks linked to Islamic militants.
Rwandan troops will join forces with troops deployed under the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which agreed in June to send a contingent to combat terrorism and acts of violent extremism in the region.
“This deployment is based on the good bilateral relations between the Republic of Rwanda and the Republic of Mozambique, following the signing of several agreements between the two countries in 2018, and is grounded in Rwanda’s commitment to the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine and the 2015 Kigali Principles on the Protection of Civilians,” the government says.
The Cabo Delgado insurgency has displaced over 800,000 people and is threatening gas projects by multinationals in the region.
Mozambique’s neighbours fear that the terrorist attacks will spill over into their territories if not neutralised.