By Associated Press - Thursday, May 6, 2021

BRUSSELS (AP) - The European Union’s top diplomat on Thursday urged member states to contribute to a military training mission for Mozambique in coming months, to help its government take control of parts of the country held by extremist rebels.

The U.N. World Food Program recently warned that the humanitarian crisis caused by the extremist insurgency in the north of the southern African country is rapidly spiraling, with more than 950,000 people in urgent need of food aid.

The French energy firm Total said late last month that it had halted all operations on its $20 billion investment in a liquefied natural gas project in northern Mozambique due to the rebel offensive.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said that the government has requested assistance and that “we must respond to the Mozambique request with a certain sense of urgency.”

“We have to react quicker,” Borrell told reporters, after chairing a meeting of EU defense ministers in Brussels. “We have a quite heavy process and we have to accelerate it.”

The non-combat mission would be similar to the one the EU launched in Mali in 2013, to help train the army and rebuild defense institutions in the wake of a military coup.

Borrell said he hopes the Mozambique mission will get the green light well before the end of the year. Last month, Portugal said it would send 60 officers to provide training. EU countries are considering whether to provide Mozambique’s army with military equipment.

Borrell said that “Portugal has already offered half of the staff” and “sent in advance military structures. It will be integrated into the EU training mission, if we finally agree on that.”

The 16-nation Southern African Development Community is also weighing whether to send more than 2,500 regional troops to Mozambique to help battle the rebels.

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