Rwandan troops’ successful intervention: Over 250,000 displaced people return home in Cabo Delgado

By Philbert Girinema
On 18 December 2023 at 09:01

Brig Gen Ronald Rwivanga, the Spokesperson of the Rwanda Defence Force (RDF), revealed that joint operations by Rwanda Security Forces (RSF) and the Mozambican army have facilitated the return of more than 250,000 people who were displaced by Islamic State-linked terrorists in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province. This success has also led to the reopening of sea and airports in the region.

The announcement came after community work (Umuganda) and medical outreach exercises conducted jointly by the RSF and Mozambican forces in Mocimboa da Praia city on Saturday, December 16.

Cabo Delgado’s coastal region had suffered from the terror activities of Ansar al Sunnah wal Jama’a terrorists, resulting in the deaths of over 4,000 people and the displacement of hundreds of thousands since 2017. In response to a request from the Mozambican government, Rwanda deployed 1,000 troops to Cabo Delgado in July 2021.

The joint forces successfully dislodged terrorists from major towns and villages in districts such as Mocimboa da Praia and Palma. Notable achievements include capturing strategic locations like Mbau, Awasse, Naquitengue, Chinda, Diaca, Primeiro de Maio, Quelimane, Pundanhar, Nhica do Rovuma, and the port city of Mocimboa da Praia.

The RDF continues its support to restore state authority in Cabo Delgado through combat and security operations, stabilization, and security sector reform. In November 2022, additional troops were deployed to pursue fleeing terrorists, extending operations to Ancuabe District.

The Rwandan contingent, comprising over 3,000 troops under the command of Maj. Gen. Alex Kagame, is divided into military and police components, including a level II field hospital.

Operations involve long-range patrols, mobile operating bases, confidence-building patrols, ambushes, and joint efforts with Mozambican and Southern African Development Community (SADC) forces.

Maj Gen Alex Kagame attributes the success in defeating terrorists to these operations. The relationship between the local population and Rwanda Security Forces has been strengthened through outreach programs, fostering trust and good relations.

Thanks to the joint operations, Mocimboa da Praia witnessed the reopening of its sea port and the inauguration of the airport in October by President Filipe Nyusi. Several terrorists and their leaders were neutralized, weapons seized, and a key leader, Bonomade Machude Omar, also known as Ibn Omar, was killed during Operation Hard Punch in Macomia District.

Brig Gen Rwivanga reports that about 80% of displaced individuals in Palma and Mocimboa da Praia have returned home. The RDF emphasizes its commitment to the region’s security, with ongoing efforts to eradicate terrorists dispersed in forests.

Speaking on the intervention’s duration, Brig Gen Rwivanga stressed that there is no set deadline, emphasizing the importance of building capacity for Mozambican forces.

Recently, Rwanda trained 150 Mozambican Special Forces, marking the beginning of a broader initiative to empower local forces and ensure sustained security in the region.

RDF has conducted several operations in Mozambique including confidence-building patrols.
A medical outreach exercise was jointly conducted by the RSF and Mozambican forces in Mocimboa da Praia city on Saturday, December 16.
The commander of the Joint Task Force in Mozambique,Maj Gen Alex Kagame.
Over 250,000 displaced people are reported to have returned to their homes in Cabo Delgado.
Key airports resumed operations in Mocimboa da Praia.