EU ambassadors on Wednesday gave the green light to setting up a military mission in Mozambique to help train its armed forces battling jihadists in the north of the country, diplomats said.
A deadly insurgency by militants linked to the Islamic State group has ravaged the gas-rich Cabo Delgado province since late 2017, claiming some 3,000 lives and displacing 800,000 people.
Former colonial master Portugal is already providing training for Mozambican troops — and Lisbon’s military instructors on the ground will make up some half of the new EU mission.
A senior European diplomat said that other countries including France, Italy, and Spain are expected to provide personnel for the mission.
Foreign ministers from the 27-nation bloc are due to formally sign off on the mission at a meeting on July 12.
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The approval of the EU training mission comes as regional powers are also looking to bolster their support for Mozambique’s fight to crush the insurgency.
Last week the 16 southern African countries in the SADC bloc approved the deployment of forces as Mozambique’s government said it was open to foreign boots on the ground to battle the jihadists.
The EU has several other training missions in Africa, including in Mali, the Central African Republic, and Somalia.
The operation in Mali — aimed at boosting the fight against jihadists — has continued to function despite concerns after the latest strike of military coups hit the country in May.