The elite Green Berets have been deployed to help defeat Islamic State insurgents accused of beheading children as young as 11 in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique.
US Army Special Forces soldiers are to train Mozambican marines for the next two months to counter the rapidly escalating insurgency from ISIS-linked terrorist group al-Shabab.
It comes after the US officially listed the group as a foreign terrorist organisation last week because of its links to ISIS, who it pledged allegiance to in 2018 and who claimed its first attack in June 2019.
Mozambique, in southern Africa, represents the worrying spread of Islamic insurgency on the continent. Other nations facing ISIS-linked violence include Somalia, Nigeria, Niger, Mali, and Libya.
The deployment of the Green Berets is "to prevent the spread of terrorism and violent extremism," the US Embassy in Maputo, Mozambique's capital, said, The Times reported.
According to an Insider report last month, the Green Berets are called on to deploy worldwide, build lasting relationships with local groups friendly towards the United States, and then teach those groups how to kill effectively. The SF soldiers then begin going on missions with the locals and fight side-by-side.
The situation in the northernmost province of Cabo Delgado, which began in 2017, became even more urgent last year, with up to 3,500 fighters regularly engaging with the military to capture key towns.
At least 2,000 civilians have been killed, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project and 670,000 have been displaced, Save the Children added. Around a million people are also in need of food aid, the UN estimated.
'They took my eldest son and beheaded him'
Children as young as 11 years old have been executed, according to Save the Children, that has spoken to displaced families that have described horrific executions by the Islamic insurgents.
One mother, Elsa, 28, whose name has been changed, told Save the Children: "That night our village was attacked and houses were burned. When it all started, I was at home with my four children.
"We tried to escape to the woods, but they took my eldest son and beheaded him. We couldn't do anything because we would be killed too."
Impoverished Mozambique, in southern Africa, had been relying on foreign mercenaries, mainly from South Africa, who have also been accused of human rights abuses.
An Amnesty International report found that both sides committed war crimes, with government forces responsible for abuses against civilians, something it has denied.
Al-Shabab, not to be confused with the Somalian al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group of a similar name, means The Youth in Arabic.
It has found ready recruits among the unemployed young people from the area, al-Jazeera reported.
Although a ruby deposit and gas field were discovered in Cabo Delgado in 2009 and 2010, creating dreams of a better life for locals, these were soon undermined by violence and extreme flooding, the BBC noted.
Read the original article on Business Insider
Mozambique's fisheries exports fell by 56 per cent in 2020 when compared with the previous year, as a result of a decline of catches by the industrial and semi-industrial fleets.
Speaking on Monday in Maputo at the opening session of a meeting on the prospects for fisheries in 2021, the Minister of the Sea, Inland Waters and Fisheries, Augusta Maita, expressed her concern with the trend, over the last 20 years, for a decline in the contribution made by fisheries to the trade balance.
"The issue must deserve our special attention, through the adoption of concrete actions to reverse this scenario," Maita said, pointing out that the fishing campaign for 2021, opening officially on April 1 is already faced with the recent impacts of the tropical cyclones Chalane and Eloise that hit the Mozambican coast, damaging fishing boats and infrastructure and aquaculture production units.
As the 2021 campaign has to be undertaken in full accordance with the country's legislation, Maita reminded the participants that the Maritime Fishing Regulations (REPMAR), passed in 2020, are now in force and represent a landmark in the country's efforts to implement measures intended to manage, protect and ensure sustainable use of its fishery resources.
Despite the setback recorded last year by the sector, she said however that the fisheries recorded a recovery at the third quarter of 2020, translated into a positive performance and consequently a 1.6 per cent growth rate.
Maita also expressed the government's concern over the recent mass death of over 100 dolphins in Bazaruto Archipelago National Park (PNAB), in the southern province of Inhambane.
"Although the reasons are yet to be identified, such events pose a great concern as the creatures play a role in ecological balance," she said.
Source: Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique
At least 38 people were feared after a boat carrying civilians fleeing insecurity in Cabo Delgado Province, Mozambique, sank last week, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said on Thursday.
Many children are feared dead following the incident which allegedly happened on October 29. At least 70 people were believed to be on board the overcrowded vessel which was one of several of its kind making such a journey.
According to the IOM, information about the incident only came to light after survivors made it to safety in Pemba, the provincial capital, and narrated their tragedy to volunteer aid workers.
A woman who survived the incident said several residents of Palma were attempting to flee in order to try and build a new life in Pemba.
Palma lies close to Mozambique’s border with Tanzania and is near one of the world’s largest untapped offshore gas fields.
“Other people held on to cushions from the boat, and some held a cord, but the others drowned. My husband also drowned. The greatest number of deaths were children. Only two children survived,” Uyeca Mpate said.
The IOM Chief of Mission in Mozambique Laura Tomm-Bonde said the organization was prepared to assist in any way it can.
“We stand ready to support the efforts of the Government of Mozambique to assist survivors, internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Cabo Delgado, and the communities that host them.”
The IOM estimates that more than 270 boats from Cabo Delgado carrying more than 13,000 people, including nearly 5,900 children, arrived in Paquetequete, Pemba, in just the last three weeks.
Militant attacks in Cabo Delgado province began as far back as 2017 but the intensity has increased pace this year, with insurgents taking control of important towns for short periods and targeting military and other key targets.
According to the U.N. World Food Programme, more than 300,000 people have fled the violence in Cabo Delgado.
MOZAMBIQUE has formally asked the European Union (EU) for support to battle Islamist militants in its gas-rich northern province of Cabo Delgado.
It has requested support in logistics and specialised training for its soldiers.
The southern African nation has been fighting the insurgents for three years with little success. At least 1,500 people have been killed and an estimated 250,000 have fled their homes.
The government has allegedly lost control of three coastal districts.
Foreign Affairs Minister Veronica Macamo has written to Brussels requesting the support after the EU expressed its willingness to assist.
In the letter, Ms Macamo also asked for assistance in development programmes as a way of reducing the vulnerability of the locals, mainly young people, to the allure of joining the insurgents.
When Anadarko Petroleum Corp. confirmed last year it would be constructing a $20 billion liquified natural gas (LNG) plant in Mozambique, this was major news. Mozambique’s first onshore LNG plant would be creating tens of thousands of jobs - and contributing to sustainable, long-term economic growth that would impact millions of people.
Two additional LNG projects have been announced since then: the $4.7 billion Coral FLNG Project by ENI and ExxonMobil, and the $30 billion Rovuma LNG Project by ExxonMobil, ENI, and the China National Petroleum Corporation. While these two have been postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the original LNG Mozambique project has been moving forward.
French oil major Total acquired the project and finalized project funding in July, even in the face of recent terror attacks in northern Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province, where Total’s LNG plant will be constructed.
That’s why it’s so disheartening to learn that a UK-based environmental group is pursuing actions that could jeopardize the project’s timely progression, all in the name of preventing climate change. Friends of the Earth has said it will initiate a legal challenge against the UK’s decision to provide $1 billion in funding for the Mozambique LNG project.
Never mind the project’s importance to everyday Africans. Never mind its potential to grow and diversify the economy. Never mind that projects like this are just what Mozambique needs to address its energy poverty, or that the Mozambique government has invested considerable time and resources into making this LNG project possible.
This is not the first time that not so well informed radical activist have attempted to interfere with Africa’s energy industry in ways that do not help poor Africans but serve their own interest. International organizations, including the World Bank, and private investors, under pressure by environmental groups, have been dropping support for African fossil fuel production. A lot of poor people are suffering from this and hundreds of millions more will if we to change direction.
I find it stunning that, during a time when much of the world is talking about the need to respect black perspectives, environmental groups seem to have no qualms about dismissing African voices.
As I’ve said in the past, I agree that climate change should be taken seriously. And I understand the risks it poses to Africa. The thing is, why are non-African organizations trying to dictate how African countries address those risks? The message in this case seems to be that “they know best.” That idea is insulting, and interfering with an African country’s efforts to build up its economy – simply because fossil fuels are involved – is completely unacceptable.
A ‘Missed Opportunity?’ Really?
UK Export Finance (UKEF) is one of eight export credit agencies to provide funding for Total’s Mozambique LNG project, which includes the construction of a two-train liquefaction plant with a capacity of 12.9 million tonnes per year.
UKEF’s $1 billion commitment includes awarding $300 million in loans to British companies working on the gas project and guaranteeing loans from commercial banks worth up to $850 million. The UK’s parliamentary under-secretary for the Department for International Trade, Graham Stuart, has pointed out that Total’s LNG project could be transformational for Mozambique and create 2,000 jobs in the UK as well.
But Friends of the Earth has said they will seek a judicial review into the UK government’s decision to help finance a project that, as they put it, will “worsen the climate emergency.” The group’s director, Jamie Peters, also expressed his disappointment in a letter to the UK government. The UKEF’s funding decision, Peters said, represents a “lost opportunity” for the UK to be a world climate leader.
My question to Mr. Peters is, what about Mozambique’s opportunities? To help everyday people improve their lives? To earn a decent living? To have a reliable source of energy? I’m talking about an opportunity to nudge the average life expectancy in Mozambique above 59 years, where it stands now.
The Mozambique LNG project is poised to make those things possible. As far as I’m concerned, losing that opportunity would be devastating.
What Mozambique Stands to Gain
I can’t overstate the far-reaching implications and potential that Total’s Mozambique LNG project represents for local businesses, communities, and individuals.
Total estimates that its plant will generate about $50 billion in revenue for Mozambique’s government during its first 25 years in operation. That revenue can be directed toward much-needed infrastructure, educational programs, and economic diversification programs.
Consider direct foreign investment in Mozambique: Total’s US$25 billion investment in the LNG plant is more than twice Mozambique’s current GDP.
How about the plant construction project? Not only will it generate tens of thousands of local jobs, but it also will provide training opportunities for local people. Indigenous companies will be contracted to provide goods and services.
This pattern will continue once the plant is operational. Locals can train for and take a wide range of positions, including professional and leadership roles. Over time, subject matter experts who can share their knowledge in Mozambique, and with other African companies, will be cultivated. And, once again, the plant will be looking to local companies to provide products and services.
LNG Can ‘Em-power’ Mozambique
In addition to these far-reaching economic opportunities, the LNG produced at the plant will provide affordable energy for Mozambique.
The need is urgent. Only about 29% of the population has access to electricity today. Medical care is hindered. Education is impacted. And sustainable economic growth is an uphill climb.
Earlier this year, I praised the government of Mozambique for negotiating for part of the LNG production to be diverted to the domestic market, meaning it can be used for power generation. Since then, the government secured financing for a 400MW gas-fired power plant and transmission line to Maputo, the country’s capital, which will dramatically improve power reliability there.
By the way, when the Mozambique government ensured that some of the plant’s LNG production would be available for domestic use, it also laid the foundation for monetization and economic diversification. In Mozambique, LNG will be available to serve as feedstock for fertilizer and petrochemical plants. It can be exported by pipeline to neighboring companies. And that, in turn, can help Mozambique build even more infrastructure and contribute to even greater widespread prosperity.
Mozambique Has Been Working for This
I’d also like to point out the thought and preparation that the Mozambique government has put into making its natural gas operations beneficial for the country as a whole since approximately 180 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves were discovered there in 2010.
Mozambique’s national oil company, ENH, hired global energy research and consulting firm Wood Mackenzie to help it prepare for the responsibility of managing and selling its corresponding portion of the resources. Since then, ENH formed a consortium with international oil and gas trader, Vitol.
The government also has sought the support of more experienced energy producers and international partners. Earlier this year, President Filipe Nyusi met with Norway's Crown Prince Haakon and signed an agreement for support on natural gas resource management.
But even before that, Mozambique laid the foundation for a successful oil and gas industry with the new Petroleum Law of 2014. And with that legislation in place, the country completed a successful bidding round for exploration blocks. These efforts, along with careful negotiations with international oil companies, is what brought Mozambique to where it is today: on the cusp of becoming a major LNG producer. And these efforts are what will make Mozambique’s LNG industry a success, not just in terms of government revenue, but also in improving the lives of everyday people.
We Must Put People First
Mozambique is not asking for aid to lift its people out of poverty. It’s attempting to capitalize on its own natural resources. The government isn’t trying to make a quick buck. It’s working to lay a foundation for long-term growth. And efforts like the Exxon and Total Mozambique Projects are more than an opportunity for international oil companies, or even Mozambique’s government. They have the potential to improve the lives of millions of everyday people.
I recognize the need to protect our planet and prevent climate change. But interfering with financing for Africa’s fossil fuel projects is not the right path. We must not dismiss the value of projects like these or their ability to make meaningful changes for the better in Mozambique. And we must not put environmental ideals ahead of the pressing needs that are facing people right now.
The Mozambican civil aviation authorities say only airlines from six countries have agreed to resume operations since the reopening of the country’s airspace this month.
The National Civil Aviation Institute said the airlines were from Portugal, Turkey, Qatar, Ethiopia, Kenya and South Africa.
The institute said countries planning to restart their flights should express interest in the Mozambican diplomatic missions of their respective countries.
The resumption of regular passenger and cargo flights is authorised based on the principal of reciprocity and only two weekly flights are allowed.
International passengers must have proof that they tested negative for Covid-19 in the last 72 hours, according to guidance by the institute issued this week.
The airlines are required to ensure preventive measures are observed including the wearing of masks, social distancing of at least 1.5 metres, and the planes must carry universal precautionary kits.
The airline crew should also undergo state-supervised mandatory quarantine for up to 24 hours.
The planes, passengers and cargo must be disinfected before disembarking, the guidelines say.
Islamist insurgents have captured a heavily-defended port in the far northern Mozambique town of Mocimboa da Praia, close to the site of natural gas projects worth some $60 billion, local media reported on Wednesday.
It was one of several attacks on the town - 60 km (37 miles) south of the projects being developed by oil majors like France’s Total - this year as insurgents with links to Islamic State have stepped up attacks in the region. Its port is used for cargo deliveries to the developments.
Local news site Zitamar said the port had been seized on Tuesday, when naval forces ran out of ammunition to keep insurgents at bay after days of fighting in Mocimboa da Praia.
A spokesman for the southern African country’s police was not immediately available for comment.
Attacks began in the northernmost province of Cabo Delgado in 2017, and have rapidly gathered pace this year with insurgents seizing key towns for brief periods and increasingly hitting military or strategic targets.
That came after the group, known as Ahlu Sunnah Wa-Jama, pledged allegiance to Islamic State last year, and IS subsequently began claiming the local group’s attacks, including another strike on Mocimboa da Praia earlier this year.
This week, Islamic State claimed via its media channels to have taken over two military bases in the vicinity of Mocimboa da Praia, resulting in the deaths of a number of Mozambique soldiers and the capture of weaponry ranging from machine guns to rocket-propelled grenades.
The remote region is far from Mozambique’s main central city of Beira and the capital Maputo in the far south.
French oil major Total has signed a $14.9 billion senior debt financing agreement for its massive liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in Mozambique, the biggest project financing ever in Africa, it said on Friday.
The project includes the development of the Golfinho and Atum natural gas fields in the Offshore Area 1 concession, and the construction of a two-train liquefaction plant with a capacity of 13.1 million tons per annum, Total said.
Jean-Pierre Sbraire, chief financial officer of Total, said the signing, which secures the majority of the project’s total investment of $20 billion, shows financial institutions have confidence in the long-term future of LNG in Mozambique.
Mozambique LNG is one of several projects being developed in the country’s northernmost province of Cabo Delgado after one of the biggest gas finds in a decade off its coast. Together, the projects are worth some $60 billion.
Rival Exxon Mobil delayed the final investment decision on its nearby Rovuma LNG gas project due to the coronavirus pandemic, and Mozambique expects the decision next year.
Mozambique LNG’s project financing includes direct and covered loans from eight export credit agencies (ECAs), 19 commercial bank facilities, and a loan from the African Development Bank, Total said in a statement.
UK Export Finance (UKEF) was among the ECAs contributing to the financing, alongside the Export Import Bank of the United States, Italy’s SACE, the Netherlands’ Atradius, the Export Credit Insurance Corporation of South Africa, Japan Bank for International Cooperation, Nippon Export and Investment Insurance, and the Export-Import Bank of Thailand.
Reuters reported last month that UKEF was planning to commit around $800 million of funding - a contribution that drew criticism from environmental campaigners who say Britain should not be funding fossil fuel projects.
Sealing the Total project financing is a win for Mozambique’s government as it tackles security challenges.
Cabo Delgado has seen an Islamist insurgency with links to Islamic State gather pace over the past year, and suspected Islamist insurgents attacked a town 60 km (37 miles) south of the gas projects late last month.
Trade between Malawi and Mozambique using the ports of Beira and Nacala went down by 13 percent in the past two months, mainly due to travel restrictions in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic.
This is according to a report released by shipping and clearing firm, Fortress Business and Logistics Consult.
Speaking in an interview, Fortress Business and Logistics Consult Chief Executive Officer, Karl Chokotho, said annual volumes through Mozambique corridors make up to around 20 percent of the total Malawi imports and exports.
He said the trend in these corridors is a fair indication on what is happening in the economy.
He said over 70 percent of Malawi exports peak in the second half of the year, and that the real Covid-19 impact is yet to be felt.
The Times Group
A growing insurgency in the northern parts of Mozambique has caught the attention of conflict analysts and observers worldwide.
There is now even a possibility that the South African National Defence Force might become involved in the most northern Cabo Delgado province, with a view to ending the deadly violence and litany of atrocities, abductions and destruction of infrastructure.
Should the South African government decide to send in its military, the main aim would be to focus on the violent activities of an extremist and militant Islamic group, Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jammah. It is also locally known as Al Shabaab, even though it has no connections with the Somali movement of the same name. The group aims to establish its own mosques and madrassas to enhance the spread of its radical dogma.
Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jammah started as a religious sect which turned into a guerrilla group. Initially its goal was to impose Sharia law (Islamic law) in Cabo Delgado. It rejected the state’s schooling, health system and laws, which resulted in much tension in the province. Some analysts argue that the movement is motivated more by greed than by dogma or grievance: that it is making millions of dollars a week through criminal activities relating to mining, logging, poaching and contraband.
Be that as it may, many of its members appear to be socio-economically marginalised young people without a proper education and formal employment. They have been joined by young immigrants in a similar marginalised position. It is estimated that the movement’s members are organised in tens of small cells along the coast of northern Mozambique.
There is rightly widespread concern over these developments. Should South Africa – and specifically its defence force – get involved, it would certainly be venturing into a highly violent and complex landscape, requiring a counter-terrorism type of operations.
Such operations are always highly challenging. Countering terrorist and insurgent forces in Mozambique could be as challenging as the protracted operations against Boko Haram and Al Shabaab, the militant Islamist sects that operate predominantly in Nigeria and Somalia, destabilising large areas with their terror campaigns.
Why should there be serious concern over the situation in Mozambique?
Mozambique borders Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and eSwatini. Four of these six countries are landlocked, and hence depend on Mozambique as a gateway to global markets. Events in Cabo Delgado could thus threaten regional stability.
Even though Mocímboa da Praia, which is regarded as the headquarters of the extremists, is about 2,500km from South Africa, the group nevertheless poses a challenge to the country too. After all, Mozambique has strong economic ties with South Africa as the region’s economic engine. Regional stability is certainly in the interest of South Africa.
From a South African standpoint, four main issues stand out. These are: the danger of the spread of Islamist extremism so close to home; the strategic importance of the area under siege; weakness of Mozambican security forces; and combating organised crime.
This is the first case of violent extremism of this kind in southern Africa. It is also the first manifestation of a militant movement which is associated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and the notion of a jihadist insurgency.
Until recently, acts of terror conducted by extremists in southern Africa were confined to Tanzania and Zanzibar.
The death toll and displacements of Mozambican locals in Cabo Delgado are difficult to verify. But reports indicate that more than 1,000 people have died and about two million are affected by the crisis overall.
Secondly, in recent years massive offshore natural gas deposits have been identified, drawing some of the world’s biggest energy players. Offshore exploration in the Cabo Delgado area is among Africa’s three largest liquid natural gas projects.
Investments of billions of dollars have already been made, but an escalation of violence is putting the future of these investments at risk.
These projects could be of major importance to poverty alleviation in the country. Poverty affects most of those in rural areas with low levels of formal education. Economic activity in Mozambique has improved in recent years and has the potential to strengthen in the foreseeable future. But much will depend on the megaprojects in Cabo Delgado, debt restructuring, COVID-19, macroeconomic stability and improved political and economic governance, among other key factors.
For decades, South Africa has experienced an illegal influx of Mozambicans due to development challenges in their country. Thus, economic, political and social development in Mozambique are of the utmost importance to South Africa, which is battling massive poverty and unemployment of its own.
Although exploration in Mozambique is offshore, support facilities are onshore and most vulnerable to attacks. The foreign companies with their massive investments feel threatened, especially now that final investment decisions have to be taken.
South Africa has another interest in these developments. The South African energy and chemical multinational Sasol has invested heavily in gas exploration projects since 2014.
The arrival of foreign companies has led to deep discontent among local people who are deeply aggrieved by their activities. They had to relocate to make way for the infrastructure development, amid complaints about the compensation they received. They’re also aggrieved that they have been resettled inshore, away from the coastal fishing areas.
These factors further complicate security challenges in the very delicate social landscape. Moreover, the insurgents can easily exploit local grievances as matters play into their hands.
The Mozambican military and police have proven to be no match for the militants. They have been unable to prevent them from taking the northern strategic town of Mocímboa de Praia, as well as invading a town near Quissanga.
To counter the growing insurgency, the Mozambican government has contracted the Wagner group, a private Russian military company, to assist government forces. But the situation appears to have gone from bad to worse.
A South African security group, the Dyck Advisory Group, was also allegedly assisting the Mozambican government.
A fourth cause for concern over dynamics in the Cabo Delgado province relates to organised crime. The area is a major conduit for smuggling drugs and other contraband. The volume of heroin produced and shipped from Afghanistan along a network of routes, via East and southern Africa, has increased considerably in recent years.
Cabo Delgado is a key point for smuggling drugs, wildlife, timber, gems and gold. The insurgency makes it more difficult to enforce the law in the province.
Operations aimed at countering Islamist extremists tend to continue for many years. Success at curbing violent terrorist attacks requires careful and long term responses.
Ideally, these should comprise a mixed set of interventions, including social reform, economic development and varying degrees of military force.
South African political involvement is now almost inevitable as the Southern African Development Community has already undertaken to help Mozambique in its fight against the insurgency. This makes it highly likely that South Africa’s military forces will somehow get involved.