1. Human Rights Watch Exposes Extent Of Use of Child Soldiers by Insurgents

“I was hiding inside the house when I heard his voice and I checked outside the window. I saw him with a group of about a dozen other boys, all wearing camouflage pants and a red headband.” March 24 was one of the last times this Mozambican woman saw her 17-year-old son. The boy was kidnapped by insurgents in Cabo Delgado in the massive armed attack on Palma. The armed attackers found his family of seven on a farm, where they had been hiding for two days of fighting. “I was on my knees begging the Mashababos [the local popular name for terrorist groups] to take me in their place, while my wife grabbed my son’s pants to keep him from leaving,” says the young man’s father. “One of the men hit my wife over the head with an AK-47 [shotgun] to force her to release [our son], while the other man threatened to kill us all if we didn’t let the boy go,” he said.

These reports were collected by the international human rights organization Human Rights Watch (HRW), which denounces the recruitment of child soldiers to swell the ranks in the fight against government forces . On Thursday (29.09), the organization reported that the armed group has already kidnapped hundreds of young men, who receive training at bases throughout Cabo Delgado province and are forced to fight alongside adults against Mozambican army forces.

Among those abducted, there are children as young as 12 years old. In Palma, parents report seeing their children with guns in their hands when they returned with the fighters to invade villages. “Using children for combat is cruel, illegal and should never happen,” said Mausi Segun, HRW’s Africa director in a statement. “Al-Shebab of Mozambique must immediately stop recruiting children and release each one of them from their ranks,” she urged.

According to HRW, “hundreds” of boys were kidnapped by insurgents in Cabo Delgado

A young man reported to HRW that he was kidnapped on April 18, 2020 along with two 16-year-old friends in a village during the attack on Mocímboa da Praia. The boy said the insurgents discussed the possibility of decapitating the three because they had a hairstyle allegedly contrary to the rules of Islam. But ultimately they decided to force them to walk blindfolded through the forest to an Al- Shebab in Mbau. “We joined many other boys and boys and were trained in how to use guns and knives in combat. We were told that we had to kill and fight for our land and protect our religion, which is under attack in Mozambique,” said the former child soldier. The young man managed to escape a month later during a patrol, but lives in constant fear of being captured again.

Three women told HRW that they managed to escape from a terrorist group base in Mbau, where there are “hundreds of young men”. “They behave like adult men, even choosing ‘wives’ among the abducted girls,” said one of the interviewees.

Another woman kidnapped in March in Palma and who managed to escape reported that she was taken with hundreds of women and boys in three trucks to Mocímboa da Praia, where they were held captive. “The boys were taken for military training in Mbau and Macomia. After training, they were brought back to receive Islamic lessons and instructions to attack the villages,” she said.

The UN Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, concerning the involvement of children in armed conflict, prohibits non-state armed groups from recruiting children under the age of 18 years. The document was ratified by Mozambique in 2004.

The recruitment, enlistment or active use of children under the age of 15 in active hostilities during armed conflict is classified as a war crime under the Rome Statute.


 

2. Mocimboa da Praia Today

With life slowly returning to Mocimboa da Praia, we present a collage of photographs below showing what the town looks like after more than five months of occupation by insurgents.

  


 

3. SADC Forces (SAMIM) Eliminate Insurgency Leader

A leader of the Al Sunnah wa Jama’ah insurgents has been named as Rajab Awadhi Ndanjile. This was revealed in a statement released by SAMIM, about the offensive launched on the insurgent’s base in Chitama. In the same offensive, claim SAMIM, they successfully neutralized Njandile, also known as Sheikh Dr Njile. The killing of Sheikh Njile, along with 18 other insurgents, is a major blow to the insurgent’s efforts, as he was a well-respected authority among the fighters. A native of Litinginya in Nangade, Mozambique, he was believed to be a herbalist who ran a shop in his local village and used the location as a soapbox to ferment dissatisfaction against the government. Sheikh Nile was also said to have been involved in the first attacks on the town of Mocimboa da Praia in October 2017, as well as being involved in subsequent attacks on villages; as well as the abduction of women and children for the purposes of using turning them into servants and fighters.


 

4. South African analyst Speaks On “French Connection”

“It is possible that there is an economic interest for the Rwandans, but I think it is much more than that, I also suspect the existence of a French connection,” said Abel Esterhuyse, in an interview with Lusa. The South African analyst is responsible for the Strategic Studies department at the Faculty of Military Science at the University of Stellenbosch in Cape. “I may be wrong in this analysis, it is an academic rather than a factual discussion, but I think all this points to French involvement in Africa”, stressed Abel Esterhuyse, noting that “it is predominantly French companies that are receiving the woes of Cabo Delgado “.

On the apparent “incapacity” and “ineffectiveness” of the military offensive of the Armed Forces of Mozambique, against the “insurgency” in the northern region of the country, which since July has had the support of Rwanda, which was later joined by the Development Community mission of Southern Africa (SADC), led by South Africa, the analyst called it a “political and corruption problem”. “The military incapacity of the Armed Forces of Mozambique, in my opinion, is a political problem and, predominantly, a problem of corruption. It is a problem of capacity created through political management, on the one hand, and, on the other, by corruption,” he said. Esterhuyse.

In this regard, the South African military strategy specialist advised the Mozambican authorities to create a credible information network in the northern region to deal with the situation of insecurity and criminality in Cabo Delgado.

“You have to keep in mind that there is no media in that area, so there is no open-source information for the public, the military and the bureaucracy you can trust. Here we have nothing”, stressed Abel Esterhuyse.


 

5. SADC Mission Likely To Be Extended Announces Summit In Pretoria

“The Summit approved the extension of the SAMIM [Mission of Southern Africa in Mozambique] to continue with the offensive actions against violent extremists and terrorists in Mozambique”, announced this Tuesday (05.10) the President of Botswana, Mokgweetsi Masisi, without specifying details.

The head of state was speaking at the end of an Extraordinary Summit of the Troika of the Organ of the Community for the Development of Southern Africa plus the Republic of Mozambique, chaired by the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, held today in the country’s capital, Pretoria.

SAMIM (the English acronym for the SADC Mission in Mozambique) arrived on the ground on 9 August to “combat acts of terrorism and violent extremism in the Northern Region of Cabo Delgado Province” with an initial mandate to end on 15 October 2021.

After the summit, the Mozambican President made a positive assessment and said that the extension of the SADC military mission in the north of the country aims to clarify the situation on the ground and consolidate advances

against the insurgents. “Today’s decision to extend the period of stay for the SADC troops is simply intended to clarify” the situation, he said. “The positions have been occupied, we need to clarify, clean up and then consolidate,” he described, alluding to the need to clarify whether there are insurgent groups on the loose and if so, to stop them. “The construction phase will follow later,” he concluded, without further details.

“We are pleased and thank during the session the support of the SADC countries and the hope they are giving to the Mozambican people. The situation has significantly improved in Mozambique” thanks to the military action, “together with troops from other countries that are supporting us”, he said.

President Masisi also noted that the extension of the joint SADC military mission in Cabo Delgado aims to “consolidate security stability, create an enabling environment for resettlement of populations, and facilitate humanitarian assistance operations and sustainable development”.

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