The unrest in Northern Mozambique surrounding the expansion of the Islamic State Central African Province (ISCAP) affiliated militant group Ansar al-Sunna, has generated rising humanitarian needs. Several hundred thousand people have become food insecure as the conflict and associated displacement has interrupted agricultural processes. Insecurity, administrative challenges and climatic shocks have hindered aid access.
This document reviews some of the key operational security questions for aid agencies to assist security risk management to support aid access.
Since the start of May 2021, the area around the town of Palma has remained volatile, with sporadic clashes reported by local media, despite claims by the Mozambique government that the area remains secure.
As a result of the attack on Palma in March, subcontractors have started to dismantle the infrastructure left behind by Total at their Afungi site (27km south of Palma) after it suspended operations and ordered the evacuation of its staff from the region.
At least 20,000 IDPs are living near the Total gas project in Afungi with limited access to humanitarian aid, or the ability to leave the area, as the Mozambique government controls all access routes.
Regional leaders met Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi in Maputo on 27 May to try to persuade him to allow a Southern African Development Community (SADC) force to tackle Ansar al-Sunna. However, whilst they agreed to work with Mozambique to support their efforts, there was no mention of military support, due to President Nyusi’s concern over perceived foreign intervention within the country. Instead, the SADC planned to enhance border security measures and target terrorist finance.
The European Union is also offering to support the government with a military training team (possibly up to 300 soldiers) to reinforce the 60 Portuguese soldiers who deployed to the country in May on a four month mission to train the Mozambique military in counter-insurgency techniques. This is in addition to the US Special Forces (Green Berets) who are also carrying out military training.