The number of people forced to flee their homes as a result of the conflict in the northern Msimbiji region quadrupled this year to 420,000, according to the United Nations.
The conflict in Cabo Delgado state is not only about attacks by Islamist militants, but also about the lack of distribution of large amounts of mineral and gas revenues to local residents.
A senior UN refugee official who visited Cabo Delgado described the situation in the region as “very serious and dangerous” and called on neighbouring Mozambique and the international community to intervene in what he described as a “crisis”. “invisible” in the long term
“The population is growing over time and this is a situation that could get worse,” Angèle Dikongué-Atangana, UNHCR’s deputy director for South Africa, told the BBC from Cabo Delgado, Pemba.
This archive photo taken on 24 August 2019 shows the remains of a burnt and destroyed house in the recently attacked village of Aldeia da Paz on the outskirts of Macomia.
PHOTO SOURCE, AFP
Ms Dikongué-Atangana warned that the state of “terrorism” in Mozambique has begun to resemble the long-running conflict in northern Nigeria, where the Islamist militant group Boko Haram has caused serious damage.
But as well as blaming the militants of the Islamic state for the brutal killings and other disasters in Cape Delgado, Ms Dikongué-Atangana has criticised the behaviour of the “mining” companies involved in mining and gas extraction on the beaches.
No hope, no dream
“If I had been born in a place like this, which is very rich, and I see wealth being plundered, and I don’t see … some of the wealth, I would be angry too,” he said, warning that the younger generation of Mshumbiji who “have no hope and no dreams”. If I fight, I can die an honourable death. If I don’t fight, I can still die.
A Muslim praying in Mozambique
PHOTO SOURCE, REUTERS
In recent months, the small port of Pemba, has become increasingly crowded, with the population almost doubling, with thousands of people arriving on foot or by boat, fleeing the confusing and brutal attacks that have been taking place.
“I have nothing left, only this boat,” fisherman Wazir, whose wife, Aziza Falume, gave birth on the ocean while they were in their boat fleeing the attack, told AFP.
“I am still afraid. I wonder all the time when the jihadists will come to Pemba and attack, or if any of them will live among us,” he said.
The US Foreign Ministry now warned that Pemba “could be attacked because it is very close to the militant forces that carry out violent attacks”.
Read more about the conflict in Mozambique:
Militants and the ‘curse’ of Mozambique’s wealth
President of Mozambique visits war zone
President of Mozambique visits war zone
Instability of the conversation
The government of Mozambique, which has so far received military support from Russian and South African builders, is currently under pressure to accept more aid or intervention from its neighbours, who fear a worsening of the security situation that has begun to cross borders.
But the talks appear to be deteriorating, with Mozambique concerned about foreign influence and the appearance that its government has failed to resolve the dispute. Meanwhile, foreign criticism of Mozambique’s handling of the conflict has also become more acute.
President Filipe Nyusi says the source of the conflict in his country is the Islamist militants
PHOTO SOURCE, GETTY IMAGES
President Filipe Nyusi says that the source of the conflict in his country is the Islamist militants
South Africa’s Minister of International Relations, Naledi Pandor, spoke of “administrative shortcomings, human rights violations and disputes over resources”.
A group of South African bishops who visited Pemba recently issued a statement saying, “Almost everyone spoke of recognising that the war in Mozambique is about international companies fighting for control of the state’s mineral and gas resources, reducing people from coastal areas”.
And in Brussels, European Union Foreign Minister Josep Borrell Fontelles also made a strong assessment of Mozambique’s shortcomings: “We cannot say that everything that comes from Mozambique is part of a movement called the militant Islamic movement.
“To a certain extent, this is true. But the armed violence in the northern part of Mozambique was fuelled by poverty and inequality among the local population.