The European Union’s high representative for foreign policy, Josep Borrell, said on Friday that the EU mission to Mozambique will take place on Tuesday next week and will only be subject to final authorisation from Maputo.
“It will take place next week, I believe it will be on Tuesday, all procedures are prepared, it only depends on the Mozambican authorities giving their final authorisation, but minister Augusto Santos Silva is prepared to go, the mission is prepared,” said Josep Borrell in an interview with Lusa to be released in full on Saturday.
The mission, announced exactly one month ago by the head of European diplomacy, will be led by the Portuguese foreign minister.
Josep Borrell said that Santos Silva was travelling with the director of the European External Action Service (EEAS) to Africa, the Portuguese diplomat Rita Laranjinha.
“For the moment they are going to Maputo and it is hoped that they can go to Cabo Delgado,” he said, adding that this “will depend on the security conditions of the area.
“We will see how we can further help the government of Mozambique to tackle a problem that is not only from Mozambique but comes from Somalia, which affects a region that had been quite isolated and where we may have an extension of Islamist terrorism,” he said.
The high representative stressed that any European Union initiatives can only be developed after “the agreement of the Mozambican authorities, [which] is a sovereign country,” but pointed to training and military equipment, humanitarian aid to displaced populations and, possibly, coastal surveillance missions.
“We will perhaps have to think about coastal surveillance missions, because of piracy on the Somali coast, as we strengthen our surveillance to the north, is moving south. But that requires the agreement of the Mozambican government, that is a fundamental part of [Minister] Augusto” Santos Silva mission he added.
Borrell announced on 15 December that he had asked Santos Silva to go to Mozambique as his envoy to raise the situation in Cabo Delgado with local authorities, the scene of armed violence attributed to extremist Islamic groups.
Santos Silva’s choice comes at a time when Portugal took over the presidency of the Council of the EU on 1 January and runs until 30 June 2021.
The armed violence in Cabo Delgado, where the largest private multinational investment in Africa is taking place, for the exploitation of natural gas, is causing a humanitarian crisis with more than 2,000 deaths and 560,000 displaced people, without housing or food, mainly concentrated in the provincial capital, Pemba.
Some of the incursions have been claimed by the ‘jihadist’ Islamic state group since 2019.
Josep Borrell’s interview on video is available HERE