The Rwandan security forces have added Ancuabe district to the sectors which they are responsible for defending against Islamic State-affiliated insurgents, in addition to Cabo Delgado’s north-eastern districts of Palma and Mocímboa da Praia.
Mozambican Armed Defence Forces (FADM) Chief of General Staff, Admiral Joaquim Mangrasse, visited the Rwandan security forces’ “new deployment” in Ancuabe on 23 December 2022, according to a statement from Rwanda’s Ministry of Defence. The deployment to the district is made up of troops from the Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) and the Rwanda National Police (RNP).
RDF spokesperson, Brigadier General Ronald Rwivanga, confirmed to Zitamar on Thursday that Ancuabe, in southern Cabo Delgado, is a new sector for which the Rwandans are responsible, like Palma and Mocímboa da Praia, where the RDF and RNP have been based since they first deployed in Cabo Delgado in July 2021.
Responsibility for assisting FADM in counter-insurgency operations in each of Cabo Delgado’s districts is divided between the Rwandans and the various militaries serving in the Southern African Development Community Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM). The RDF has previously carried out joint operations beyond its formal sectors of responsibility, namely in Macomia district, but only to provide temporary support.
In April last year, Rwivanga told Zitamar that the Rwandans “have no intentions of taking on any more sectors,” but the security situation in Cabo Delgado has shifted dramatically since then. No international force had been assigned to Ancuabe because prior to June 2022 it had never been attacked. By August, it was the district with the highest concentration of fatalities in Cabo Delgado, as insurgents mounted a blistering offensive through the province’s southern regions.
No confirmed attacks have been recorded in Ancuabe since October but security forces must now prepare for this front to reemerge. One source suggests there could be up to 1,000 Rwandans deployed in Ancuabe as well as 1,000 FADM troops.
There were 2,500 Rwandan military and police officers deployed in Cabo Delgado as of November 2022 according to Rwandan President Paul Kagame, an increase from 1,000 in the initial deployment in 2021. On 1 December 2022 the European Union announced it would provide €20 million ($21.6 million) worth of assistance to the RDF mission in Mozambique.