The European Union plans to increase financial support for its military mission in Mozambique, as Islamist attacks threaten gas projects intended to reduce the bloc’s dependence on Russian energy.
European diplomacy chief Josep Borrell said Thursday (September 8) that the bloc had pledged to help the country fight “against terrorism”, as he unveiled new military aid for the country in the aftermath of an attack murderous jihadist.
The attack was a “stark reminder that the fight against terrorism is not over and unfortunately it is spreading outside the Cabo Delgado region,” Borrell told reporters after holding security talks with Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi and Foreign Minister Veronica Macamo in the capital Maputo.
Borrell’s trip to Mozambique came a day after an Italian nun was killed in an attack on a missionary compound in Nampula province, claimed by the jihadist group Islamic State, which is waging an insurgency in northern Morocco. country.
The EU on Thursday approved €15 million in additional military aid in support of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM), in the restive northern province of Cabo Delgado under the bloc’s European Peace Facility, an off-budget financial aid instrument currently primarily used for military support to Ukraine.
The money will provide equipment, including camp fortifications and vehicles, and will come on top of previously agreed €89 million in aid for the Mozambican armed forces, the EU said in a statement.
The funds come on top of the €1.9 million already provided by the EU to SAMIM.
Macamo described relations with the EU as “excellent”, while Nyusi praised EU support, including the establishment of a military base to train Mozambican forces, which Borrell is due to visit later Friday (9 september).
The move also comes as the West seeks to counter Russian and Chinese influence in the southern African country, three years after Russia’s private military company Wagner withdrew most of its forces from the region following a series of defeats by Islamist militants.
Energy projects under threat
Since 2017, Mozambique has grappled with Islamic State-linked militants in its gas-rich northernmost province of Cabo Delgado, near LNG projects worth billions of dollars.
A South African military mission and a separate intervention by Rwandan troops have successfully contained the spread of militants since their deployment last year.
Mozambique has the third proven gas reserves in Africa, after Nigeria and Algeria. The EU fears that without support for military interventions, Mozambique will once again lose control of its troubled north.
Ukraine’s war-induced energy shortage has given new impetus to Europe’s gas rush off the northern coast of Mozambique, where Western oil companies plan to build a massive liquefied natural gas terminal (LNG).
[Edited by Frédéric Simon]