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Displaced Nearing 400,000 in Mozambique’s Islamist Insurgency

Wednesday 9 December 2020, by siawi3


Displaced Nearing 400,000 in Mozambique’s Islamist Insurgency

By Charles Mangwiro

December 03, 2020 03:34 PM

FILE Photo - A woman holds her child while standing in a burned out area in the attacked village of Aldeia da Paz outside Macomia in Cabo Delgado province, in Mozambique, on Aug. 24, 2019.

PEMBA, MOZAMBIQUE - Aid groups in northern Mozambique say attacks on civilians have displaced close to 400,000 people during three years of Islamist terrorism.

Fifty-year-old Matumba Mussa said armed men showed up at his house in the port town of Mocmboa da Praia one October night and demanded he call his relatives.

After his three brothers arrived, the men set fire to his house and three others, then took his brothers into the forest, according to Mussa.


Three days later, he said, dismembered bodies were found in the forest.

Insurgents linked to Islamic State took over Mocmboa da Praia in August one of a series of brazen attacks this year in Mozambique’s northern Cabo Delgado province.

Mussa fled south to the provincial capital’s Metuge refugee camp, becoming one of close to 400,000 people displaced by the violence since 2017.

The United Nations World Food Program’s representative in Cabo Delgado, Cristina Graziani, said they are working to assist those in need.

“The latest, official count is a bit above 366,000 people displaced in Cabo Delgado, in the province,” she said. “And that has obviously been an increase in the past six months. So, WFP has adjusted its program to try to cater [for] the needs, the emergency food needs, of these people. ... Our monthly food ration covers 80% of the basic food needs of a family of five.”

As the insurgency and the number of its victims expand, concerns about the displaced are growing.

Borges Nhamire of Mozambique’s Center for Public Integrity which promotes democracy and human rights said the government needs to do more for displaced civilians in Cabo Delgado.

People are fleeing using their own means and the government does not have any logistics in place to evacuate people from conflict zones to safer areas like Pemba, he said. The government is there to receive refugees, he added, but they end up living with host families because there is no place to sleep.

In this file photo taken on March 07, 2018 Soldiers from the Mozambican army patrol the streets after security in the area was increased, following a two-day attack from suspected Islamists in October 2017, in Mocimboa da Praia, Mozambique, March 7, 2018.

Cabo Delgado’s fast-growing Islamist threat was underscored when local media reported in November the insurgents killed scores of people in a series of brutal attacks.

Mozambique’s state media reported militants in Muatide village rounded up more than 50 people, mostly young men, and beheaded them on a football pitch.

In April, local media reported militants shot or beheaded 52 young people in Muidumb district after they refused to join their ranks.

Mozambican National Defense Minister Jaime Neto told Radio Mozambique last month that they are fighting to eliminate the Islamist threat, adding that people must be patient and trust the security and defense forces.

Cabo Delgado has vast oil and gas deposits estimated to be worth $60 billion. Due to the threats from militants, though, development of the natural resource has been slow.

The Islamist attacks began in October 2017 when armed men overran police stations in Mocimboa da Praia. The insurgents and military have been fighting for territory ever since, leaving up to 2,000 people dead and hundreds of thousands displaced.


Islamist Insurgents Capture Strategic Port in Northern Mozambique

By Andre Baptista, Sirwan Kajjo

August 13, 2020 01:27 PM


MAPUTO/WASHINGTON - Islamist insurgents have captured a strategic port in the restive province of Cabo Delgado in northern Mozambique, local military officials told VOA.

The takeover of the port of Mocimboa da Praia on Wednesday came after five days of fierce clashes between the insurgents and Mozambican security forces. The insurgents still held the port on Thursday, according to Mozambican officials.

Since 2017, Islamist militants, some of which are affiliated with the Islamic State terror group, have been carrying out attacks against civilians and Mozambican armed forces. The violence has killed more than 1,000 people and displaced over 210,000 others, according to the United Nations.

IS-affiliated media released images showing dead bodies allegedly of Mozambican soldiers, as well as weapons and ammunition seized from the military.

In April 2019, IS claimed the so-called Central African Province, known as IS-CAP. Terror attacks carried out by IS-CAP have so far been limited to Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The recent fighting has reportedly left at least 55 Mozambican military personnel killed and 90 others wounded.

Strategic port

The port of Mocimboa da Praia is a strategic site in Cabo Delgado, particularly for gas companies operating in the resource-rich region.

Several foreign oil and gas firms such as ExxonMobil and Total have investment projects in the area, but they have largely been disrupted due to militant attacks and the coronavirus pandemic.

The insurgents reportedly took control of the port after a Mozambican naval force defending the vicinity ran out of ammunition.

A military source told VOA that a private South African military unit of the Dyck Advisory Group, which provides air support to the Mozambican government in combating insurgents, tried to join the battle. But its involvement was minimal, due to a helicopter refueling stop in Pemba, Cabo Delgados provincial capital.

I dont understand why [the towns of] Macomia, Mueda or even Palma were not used for the helicopter refueling, said the source, who has been embedded with the military in Cabo Delgados operations.

During the last battle, the insurgents sank one of the HV32 interceptor boats in the port that belonged to the Mozambican military, the source told VOA.

Eric Morier-Genoud, a Mozambique expert at Queen’s University Belfast, says while it is not the first time that Mocimboa da Praia has fallen under the control of militants, the “difference is that the government has reinforcement and mercenaries, and they still lost.”

“The insurgents said they wanted to stay at once and make it their capital,” he told VOA.

Displaced people

Many residents of the affected areas in Cabo Delgado have sought refuge in the nearby province of Nampula.

Salome Said, 70, left Macomia when it was recently attacked by the insurgents.

Their intention was to kill me, she told VOA. One of them said, Leave her. She is an old woman. That was how I escaped. But my house was set on fire. I lost everything, and ran away from my village to find peace here in Nampula, she said.

Said now lives with her niece. She said the militants killed her 16-year-old grandson and kidnapped other young people, adding that being alive is a miracle.

There are about 10,000 displaced people, mostly women and children, from Cabo Delgado who now live in Nampula.
Caritas, a charity organization affiliated with the Catholic Church, has provided aid to the displaced families in Nampula.

Orlando Fausto, a bishop who works with Caritas, said his organization has supplied food and other essential needs.

Despite the difficult situation due to the pandemic, There are more people who are volunteering to make some contribution, Fausto told VOA.

Adina Suhele contributed to this report from Nampula, Mozambique.