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Rustenburg – The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has approved the deployment of its standby force to Mozambique following terrorism recent attacks in the north of the country.
The meeting of southern African heads of state took place yesterday in Mozambique’s capital city of Maputo.
Islamic State-backed terrorists launched an attack on March 24 on the town of Palma in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, Mozambique, killing at least 12 people, including a South African and a Zimbabwean. More than 100,000 people fled the area.
At the SADC Troika Summit of Heads of State and Government on April 8, it was resolved to deploy a technical team with immediate effect to Mozambique.
The team was to assess the threat that Islamist militants pose to Mozambique and determine how to respond to the insurgency.
According to a UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) report released two weeks ago, about 70 000 people have fled Palma since March 24, bringing the number of displaced people to nearly 800 000.
The UNHCR said that in the wake of the attack in Palma, some 2 000 children have been separated from their parents and do not even know whether their parents are alive.
Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi, who also chairs the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation, warned in April that the insurgency in Mozambique, if left unattended, could spill over and threaten stability in southern Africa.
In an interview with Radio Botswana, he said it was important for the SADC to intervene, to prevent the three-year-old insurgency from spilling over the borders of Mozambique.
The summit was also expected to address regional food and nutrition security, gender and development, and progress in the regional response to HIV and Aids and the Covid-19 pandemic.
On Tuesday, SADC executive secretary Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax told the Council of Ministers that the region was in the grip of the third wave of Covid-19 .
“The Covid-19 pandemic remains a major challenge globally, and as such, in almost all SADC member states.
“After experiencing an uptick in Covid-19 cases and unprecedented mortality rates across the region in the second wave early this year, we are now in a third wave, which some member states have technically entered into,” Tax said.
He said the region needed to remain vigilant in the fight against the pandemic by observing all the precautions as guided by health authorities.
The Summit of Heads of State and Government is the supreme policy-making institution of the SADC, with the responsibility for the overall policy direction and control of functions of the community in accordance with Article 10 of the SADC Treaty.
African News Agency (ANA)