Despite high-level insecurity in the Northern region of Mozambique, Portuguese businesses have remained resolute.
Early last week, Francisco André, the Portuguese Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation visited this troubled region to express solidarity with Mozambicans.
“From the members of the Portuguese community with whom I had the opportunity to meet, I felt very strong ties that exist with Mozambique and with this region and an iron will to face the difficulties”, Francisco André said in an interview with local Cabo Delgado press.
According to this diplomat, despite the challenges and instability caused by armed violence in Cabo Delgado, the Portuguese community and business in that province maintain the same expectations, although it is “perfectly normal to reach the conclusion that the situation of insecurity causes difficulties for economic activity”.
“Despite these difficulties, they want to continue working to stay here and chart a path together with the Mozambicans, with whom they live every day, to help in the economic recovery of the region”, declared Francisco André.
The Portuguese official also reiterated the importance of the “historic ties” that exist between Maputo and Lisbon, adding that the presence of Portugal at a time when Mozambique needs it, with armed violence in Cabo Delgado, is a sign of friendship and good cooperation.
“Mozambique is Portugal’s largest recipient of official development aid, which fills us with satisfaction and shows the level of our relationship,” said Francisco André, adding that, in addition to supporting the African country in the face of armed violence in Cabo Delgado, the availability of a batch of 50,000 vaccines for the Mozambican people symbolizes the good relations between the two states.
“Mozambique can count on Portugal, as always,” he stressed.
On his first day of visit to Mozambique, Francisco André accompanied, in Pemba, the arrival of the first of three planes that will guarantee the humanitarian airlift of the European Union to support populations affected by armed violence in Cabo Delgado, an initiative coordinated by Portugal and Italy.
The EU humanitarian airlift to Pemba, northern Mozambique, will carry close to 15 tonnes of “life-saving equipment” and is intended to “respond to urgent humanitarian needs”.
The goods and equipment come from specific contributions from Italy, from organizations such as Sant’Egidio, Oikos, Cuamm and, from Portugal, by the General Support Unit for Army Material, CVP, Caritas and Tese.
The second flight of the shuttle is expected last Sunday in Pemba, while the third arrived on the 9th.
The establishment of humanitarian air bridges by the European Union was a practice used recurrently by the bloc during the pandemic: according to Commission statistics, in 2020 67 flights were operated to 20 countries through this mechanism, which allowed the supply of “more than 1,150 tons of humanitarian equipment and vital doctor”.
Cabo Delgado, a province that hosted the largest private investment in Africa for natural gas exploration led by Total (in the order of 20 billion euros), has been plagued by armed attacks since 2017, some of which are claimed by the Islamic State rebel group.
The project is suspended due to insecurity in the region.
The wave of violence has already caused more than 2,800 deaths according to the ACLED conflict registration project and 732,000 displaced people according to the United Nations (UN).
The Portuguese Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation has been on a working visit in Mozambique until the 7th and, in addition to visiting Cabo Delgado, he held meetings with members of the Government to prepare the next bilateral summit, as well as negotiations of the next Strategic Cooperation Program 2022-2026.