The group sometimes calls themselves al-Shabaab, although they do not have known links with the Somali al-Shabaab.
The situation started worsening in October 2017 when armed extremists linked ISIL launched an insurgency in the Cabo Delgado region of Mozambique.
Since then, Mozambique Defence Armed Forces have been battling the extremists.
Many civilians have been displaced by the fighting.
Following different attacks, the militants seized the port town of Mocimboa da Praia August 2020.
Over fifty people were beheaded by terrorists in the province in April 2020 and a similar number in November 2020.
Among others, the militants seized Palma on 24th March 2021, murdering dozens of civilians displacing more than 35,000 of the town’s 75,000 residents.
So far, intensified fight between rebels and Government soldiers for the past four years has claimed lives of 3000 civilians leaving over 800,000 displaced.
The incessant violence prompted the visit of Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi to Rwanda in April 2021 where he discussed the problem with his counterpart Paul Kagame.
The statement released by the Government of Rwanda ahead of sending troops to Mozambique reads that the deployment is a response to the request of the Government of Mozambique.
The joint force is expected to work closely with Mozambique Armed Defence Forces (FADM) and forces from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in designated sectors of responsibility to fight the terrorism group that has captured Mocimboa da Pria town for four months.
Among others, the Rwandan contingent will support efforts to restore Mozambican state authority by conducting combat and security operations, as well as stabilization and security-sector reform (SSR).
The deployment is based on the good bilateral relations between the Republic of Rwanda and the Republic of Mozambique, following the signing of several agreements between the two countries in 2018. It is also rooted on Rwanda’s commitment to the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine and the 2015 Kigali Principles on the Protection of Civilians.
It is reported that Rwanda sent 35 senior military officers to assess the situation in Mozambique following the visit of Filipe Nyusi to Rwanda.
After situational analysis and identifying areas of contribution, Rwanda decided to send 1000 joint forces and cater for related cost during their mission to the Southern Africa country.
Speaking to IGIHE recently; RDF Spokesperson, Col Ronald Rwivanga explained that the most important thing is to fight terrorism because the cost of insecurity is relatively higher than the cost of war to quell insecurity.
“Wars are costly but insecurity costs higher. We are convinced that countering insurgency in Mozambique will address security issues stemming from the situation that would spread to the entire Southern Africa region. It is better to consider the losses incurred by insecurity before putting an emphasis on the cost to restore peace,” he said.
Col Rwivanga has revealed that the mission is not time-specific.
“The duration of the fight will depend on emerging situation. The time to end the insurgency is not time-specific. We shall come back after accomplishing our well defined mission,” he affirmed.
Dr. Ismaël Buchana, a researcher and political analyst has said that Africa needs to develop self-reliance to address problems prevailing on the continent including insecurity which have existed for over 60 years.
Speaking to the media recently on the decision to reduce forces deployed in peace operations in Sahel, French President Emanuel Macron explained that it is not his country’s core business to protect security for African nations.
Dr. Buchana has explained that the statement should leave a major lesson to Africans.
“The time has come for Africa to start solving own problems across all areas without leaving behind security because it is not a must for foreign countries to protect Africa. We should understand that it is our responsibility to work hard for desired progress and build strong security systems to meet our aspirations,” he stressed.
“Africa has capabilities to protect security but it requires solidarity because security problems are transnational. That is why Africa had set ambitious target to silence the guns by 2020. The target was not fully attained but there has been a major progress in conflict management,” added Dr. Buchana.
According to the Global Terrorism Index published on 25th November 2020, the "centre of gravity" for the Islamic State group IS has moved away from the Middle East to Africa and to some extent South Asia, with total deaths by IS in sub-Saharan Africa up by 67% over last year.
The report also revealed that ‘the expansion of ISIS affiliates into sub-Saharan Africa led to a surge in terrorism in many countries in the region’.
Seven of the 10 countries with the largest increase in terrorism were in sub-Saharan Africa. These include Burkina Faso, Mozambique, DRC, Mali, Niger, Cameroon and Ethiopia. They are an addition to countries with persistent conflicts including Somalia, South Sudan, Central African Republic (CAR) and Chad among others.
The report points out that in 2019 "sub-Saharan Africa recorded the largest number of ISIS-related terrorism deaths at 982, or 41 per cent of the total".
On the other hand, 20% of small arms worth US$1 billion traded globally are sold on African continent.
Dr. Buchana has explained that Rwanda’s efforts to restore peace in CAR and Mozambique should be emulated by other African countries.
“Rwanda is not the most powerful country on the continent in terms of economy and military power. By taking the front lead to intervene in peace restoration efforts, Rwanda is showing a good exemplar to other nations,” he noted.
RDF Spokesperson, Col Rwivanga has also emphasized that Rwanda’s contribution reflects that Africa has what it takes to solve own problems.
“This mission carries many lessons particularly striving for self-reliance as Africans. It demonstrates that Africans have the capacity to solve problems existing on the continent. The contribution by Africans to normalize the situation in Mozambique is of great value. The gesture should be considered to show what we can achieve in other areas including health sector where collaboration is paramount to address our problems,” he said.
Currently, Rwanda is the third largest UN troop-contributing country in the world with more than 6,000 military and police personnel to different peacekeeping missions.