Maputo (Agenzia Fides) - More troops are arriving in the Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado to fight jihadists allegedly belonging to the Islamic State (IS). After the Rwandan armed forces, which were already deployed in July, soldiers from the countries that belong to the SADC (Southern African Development Community) are now arriving. South Africa, Botswana, Tanzania, Angola and Zimbabwe are sending their soldiers to support the Mozambican troops.
The military solution to the conflict, which forced more than 730,000 residents of the province to flee, continues to arouse reservations and concerns among representatives of the Catholic Church (see Fides, 29/7/2021).
Among the contrary voices there is that of Fr. Alberto Maquia, of the Jesuit South African province. In a note, the Jesuit, citing Somalia, Mali and Chad as examples, affirms that military interventions (conducted by foreign soldiers) have temporarily weakened the opponents" but "without achieving lasting stability". Fr. Maquia also adds that once a country gets external support, it can be difficult to convince foreign troops to withdraw after a conflict has ended.
The Jesuit stresses that "economic inequalities are worsening conditions in Mozambique" and is concerned that the government does not have the resources to help the hundreds of thousands of displaced people in Cabo Delgado. Urgent humanitarian intervention must therefore take precedence over military intervention. This is all the more true, continues Father Maquia, "as the precarious economic conditions in the province are an incentive for young people to join the jihadists".
According to Fr. Maquia, instead of a military solution, "the initiative launched by Tanzania through Foreign Minister Liberata Mulamula to mediate between the government of Mozambique and the terrorists" should be supported, which he sees as "an important step" on the way to an agreement and search according to the reasons for the uprising.
Another member of the Jesuit order, however, takes a different view. Father Tendai Matare, administrator of the Jesuit school "Escola Secundária Inácio de Loyola" in the Tete region in northwest Mozambique, supports the sending of soldiers from SADC countries on the grounds that "the army in Mozambique is not well prepared to fight terrorism".
NGOs, including Catholic ones, are hoping for the humanitarian corridors to be opened quickly to provide aid to the people in the province. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 4/8/2021)