(Bloomberg) -- The European Union is considering doubling funding for a Rwandan force fighting Islamic State-linked jihadists whose activity has delayed a $20 billion TotalEnergies SE project by years in Mozambique’s gas-rich northeastern region.

Under the proposal, the EU would pay €40 million ($42.8 million) for non-lethal military equipment and airlifts for Rwandan Defence Force soldiers that have been deployed to Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province since 2021, two EU officials said, asking not to be identified as they’re not authorized to speak to the media. The EU sent Rwanda €20 million when it first sent soldiers to the region.

After a period of reduced violence, jihadist activity has surged in recent months just as the Mozambican government is pushing for France’s TotalEnergies to resume development of the massive liquefied natural gas project that it froze in 2021 after insurgents raided the nearby town of Palma, killing more than 800 people. The insurgency began in 2017 and has left at least 5,700 people dead while displacing more than a million. 

EU member states are expected to discuss the proposal in the coming weeks and there is strong political support from the bloc’s most influential countries, the officials said. The TotalEnergies project is seen as a future source of fuel for Europe, and has taken on greater import since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine crippled supplies.

The 2022 Rwanda deal was the first time Europe funded an army directly using money from the so-called European Peace Facility, a €5 billion pot that enables Europe to fund foreign armies bilaterally. Since Rwanda began operations in 2021, roughly 90% of the territory controlled by the insurgents has been regained, the officials said.

A spokesman for the European Commission said deliberations on how to use EPF funding are made by EU member states and are confidential. “At this stage we have no announcement nor comment to make on any issue related to EPF assistance for Mozambique or any other partner country,” he said.

Spokespeople for the Rwandan and Mozambican governments didn’t respond to requests for comment.

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The support for Rwanda comes amid concerns the Southern African Development Community Mission in Mozambique, which has deployed 2,200 regional troops, will leave the country ahead of the expiration of its mandate on July 15.

Almost all have already left. Botswana and Lesotho pulled out in April, while Angola and Namibia will leave shortly, with South Africa in the advanced stages of its withdrawal.

In recent weeks, Rwanda deployed an additional 2,000 troops to fight insurgents from Islamic State Mozambique, to fill the void.

--With assistance from Jillian Deutsch and Matthew Hill.

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.