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Catholic Peace Entity Urges European Parliament to Ensure Proper Use of Aid to Mozambique

Wednesday, September 1 proceedings of the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee (AFET). Catholic charity foundation, Denis Hurley Peace Institute presented the situation of Cabo Delgado, Mozambique to the European lawmakers. Credit: European Parliament

Catholic charity foundation, Denis Hurley Peace Institute (DHPI), has called on the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee (AFET) to ensure that funds availed to Mozambique to help in the fight against insurgents in the country are put to good use.

In his Wednesday, September 1 address to the European Parliament, DHPI Director Johan Viljoen highlighted the possibility that aid to the Southern African country is used to aggravate the suffering of the people in the country’s embattled Cabo Delgado Province.

He made reference to Mali where the country’s army that is receiving heavy international funding to fight insurgents has instead been accused of various crimes against innocent civilians.

“It would be wrong to assume that the insurgents are solely responsible for atrocities. There are many atrocities and gross human rights violations committed by government forces…The Malian army is accused of killing more civilians last year than the jihadist insurgents it is supposed to be battling,” Mr. Viljoen told the European lawmakers.

He added, “This could just as easily have been written about Mozambique. European taxpayers need to know: is their funding being used to stabilize Cabo Delgado, or is it being used to strengthen the capacity of the Mozambican State to repress its own citizens?”

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In Mali, the DHPI Director noted that the EU and France continue to provide the army with training and equipment support worth millions of euros each year.

He however noted that the EU has no systematic vetting mechanism to check whether the units it is training have committed human rights violations and underscored the need to ensure that the same is not repeated in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado Province.

The official of the peace entity of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) further reminded AFET members that units that had received EU training have a history of abuse against civilians.

“The jihadists are expanding their area of control, with recruitment driven in part by anger over the rights violations committed by the army,” Mr. Viljoen said of the situation in Mali, which he likened to the developments in Mozambique.

Speakers at the September 1 European Parliament session acknowledged the complex nature of the Mozambican conflict that they said is fueled by economic and social issues and interrogated the willingness by the Mozambican government to accept collaboration with the international community to end the conflict.

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In his presentation, Tomas Gunnar Tobé, a Swedish politician and member of the European Parliament noted that despite recent reported improvements of Mozambique’s security front, the European Parliament continues to be worried by the alarming humanitarian situation in Cabo Delgado.

“The European response has been recently complimented by the setting up of a EU military training mission and we need to ensure that we coordinate well our humanitarian, development and security interventions,” Mr. Tobé said.

The Swedish politician said that the European program to maintain international peace is in its final phase, adding, “we would be interested to know more on the state of preparation on the programming and document upcoming priorities in this evolving context.”

In March, the EU launched a $5.95bn off-budget fund to maintain international peace, boost stability and security. The fund is for a seven-year (2021-2027) period.

In his address, the Director of DHPI expressed concern that the ongoing conflict in Cabo Delgado is likely to expand within the Southern African country.

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He noted that since its beginning in 2017, analysts in Mozambique have been saying that the conflict is not religious, but that it is about control of the area’s mineral wealth.

The DHPI official said that all land in Mozambique belongs to the State, and explained, “Those living on it have a right to occupy. This right can be withdrawn at the State’s discretion, and given to somebody else.”

According to the official of the SACBC peace entity, the map issued by the Mozambique Department of Mineral Affairs shows that the entire Cabo Delgado Province, almost all of Nampula Province and the entire coastline from the Zambezi River to the Tanzanian, border has already been allocated to investors and prospectors.

Mr. Viljoen recounted what he described as a growing fear concerning security in other parts of Mozambique following plans to extract oil and gas in Nampula, a province in Northeastern Mozambique.

He narrates that a mining concession was awarded to Italian company ENI and ExxonMobil in 2014 and that the two companies “have been appearing in villages near Angoche, in Nampula Province, to survey the land.”

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The official of the peace entity that is monitoring conflict in a number of other African countries laments that there has been no consultation with local communities in the mining plans.

Locals who have expressed their grievances to the foundation have said, “If petro dollars equal conflict, then it is just a matter of time before conflict erupts here as well, to drive us off our land”.

The DHPI Director has called upon the EU to ensure that its companies operating in Mozambique consult extensively with affected communities.

This is to ensure that all decisions are reached by consensus and that vigorous CSI programs are in place to benefit affected communities.

Such consultations will also ensure that training programs and preferential employment policies for local communities are in place.

The consultations, Mr. Viljoen told the European parliamentarians, will address the root cause of the conflict.

“It is only when local communities have security of land tenure, and are benefitting materially from the extractive industry, that conflict will be averted,” he asserted.