"Cabo Delgado is emblematic of Daesh's influence in Africa," says Guterres

Cabo Delgado province has become "emblematic of Daesh's influence in Africa" and requires priority in the regional counter-terrorism approach, the United Nations secretary-general says in a report under consultation today at the Security Council.

"In northern Mozambique, Cabo Delgado province became in March 2021 emblematic of Daesh's influence in Africa following the brief occupation of Palma by an affiliated group near a large gas project led by a multinational company," the report on Islamic State (IS) activities, which is at the center of a UN Security Council meeting today, can read.

The document adds that "local authorities have failed to defend the town and provide security, as was also the case in Mocímboa da Praia, further south in Cabo Delgado, which has been occupied by Daesh affiliates since August 2020."

The report by UN Secretary-General António Guterres was completed on July 27 and was presented to the Security Council today by Assistant Secretary-General and Head of the UN Counterterrorism Office Vladimir Voronkov.

According to António Guterres, UN Secretary-General, developments in Mozambique may have "far-reaching" consequences on regional peace and security and have to be "addressed through a coherent regional approach as a matter of priority."

For the UN, which had several entities involved in the authorship of this biannual report on IS activities, the deterioration of the security situation in Cabo Delgado province was "one of the most worrisome events of early 2021."

"The local Daesh affiliate group [Al-Shabab] briefly invaded and detained a strategic port near the Tanzanian border before withdrawing with spoils," the report can read.

The UN states that Cabo Delgado province, being a "destination for economic migrants" and an entry point for drugs from Asia, in a region that "hosts numerous trafficking activities," is an "easy transit area for Daesh fighters."

"As in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Mozambican branch of Daesh benefits from the informal economy. Members live clandestinely and extort local populations," the report notes.

The secretary-general also adds that the Mozambican islands of Matemo, Vamizi, and Makalowe have been the scene for IS's demonstration of "skills to operate at sea," with kidnappings, abductions, and extortion attacks.

The United Nations is concerned that "some of Daesh's most effective affiliates are spreading influence and activities on the African continent," and in the last six months, "the most obvious development has been Daesh's expansion into Africa," the region where terrorism has caused the most deaths.

The report indicates that "the Islamic State threat has further expanded in Africa through the group's regional affiliates, while the core of Daesh has remained focused on regrouping in Iraq and the Syrian Arab Republic."

"Mali's spillovers into Burkina Faso and Niger, Nigeria's incursions into Niger, Chad and Cameroon, and Mozambique's into Tanzania are all very worrying," the document describes.

"The autonomy delegated by the Daesh core, the large number of small operational cells, and the absence of meaningful counterterrorism measures have turned regional affiliates into a major threat with the potential to develop further, possibly towards neighboring countries," the report concludes.

The northern province of Cabo Delgado has been the scene of attacks by armed groups since 2017, described by several governments and international entities as "terrorist".

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