Rwandan intervention and rebirth of Quionga: Reclaiming hope and security from terrorist grips in Cabo Delgado

By Esther Muhozi
On 19 December 2023 at 12:32

In July 2021, Rwandan soldiers and Police forces took decisive action against the terrorist group Jamaat Ansar al-Sunnah, affiliated with the Islamic State, which had wreaked havoc in Cabo Delgado Province, Mozambique, since 2017.

The province had become a base for these terrorists, who mercilessly attacked civilians, beheading them and setting polstations ablaze. The toll included 3,000 lives lost, over 800,000 displaced individuals, and a halt in development activities due to the pervasive security.

The turning point occurred when the Rwandan Army intervened in Cabo Delgado, relentlessly engaging the terrorists. Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) entered the Quionga area near the Mozambique-Tanzania border. The terrorists committed atrocities, burning houses and destroying infrastructure, forcing civilians to flee their homes.

Over the course of two and a half years, the once-ruined areas were reclaimed, and life began to return to normal. Residents rebuilt their homes, resumed education,businesses and revived various services disrupted by the conflict.

Journalists spoke with the people of Quionga, capturing their stories of life after liberation from terrorist control. The residents, once burdened by the darkness of the conflict, now smile again. Their faces radiate joy and hope, even though they continue to grapple with the lingering effects of the war.

In the presence of Rwandan Security Forces, the residents eagerly approach and engage in conversations about life. Lt Col Simon Kabera, the Deputy Spokesperson of RDF, offered guidance to the youth, emphasizing the importance of education and security for their future aspirations.

Brig Gen Ronald Rwivanga, the spokesperson of RDF, highlighted the significance of Quionga in Palma District as the place where RDF initiated its struggle against the terrorists. While Quionga was never fully captured, numerous attacks forced residents to flee, with terrorists burning houses. Since the RDF’s intervention, almost all residents have returned home, and no further attacks have occurred in Palma.

Brig Gen Rwivanga explained that, since 2021, there have been no attacks in Palma, and joint efforts with the Southern African Community (SADC) troops were initiated to combat terrorists in other areas, such as the Catupa Forest in Macomia. The collaboration aimed to defeat the enemy and strategically eliminate the threat. Despite challenges, the collective efforts of the RDF and SADC have contributed to maintaining security and reclaiming control over the region.

Rwandan security forces restored security in areas under their control.
Rwandan troops attending to a patient in Cabo Delgado.
ACP Charles Butera talking to residents in Quionga where RDF started the battle against terrorists that had wreaked havoc in Cabo Delgado Province.
Brig Gen Ronald Rwivanga interacting with women in Quionga.
Rwandan soldiers also use armoured vehicles in the fight against terrorists in Mozambique.