The humanitarian catastrophe caused by the conflict in northern Mozambique “goes beyond epic proportions”, The United Nations alerted on Thursday, which ensures that it “follows with deep concern” the new reports of violations against civilians in the area.
UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric referred to reports from “atrocities committed by child soldiers”, alleged beheadings during attacks by non-state armed groups and clashes in the Cabo Delgado region, reports Europa Press.
Dujarric pointed out that, although “verifying information is extremely difficult, we are above all concerned about the situation of civilians who fled the violence and those who remain in Palma”, control of which the Army regained three days ago after it was allegedly invaded by terrorists on March 24, according to the UN.
The humanitarian community in Mozambique “I was already at the limit before the attacks de Palma, having responded to multiple weather emergencies, in addition to the conflict in Cabo Delgado, in the first months of 2021, “the spokesperson explained.
Urgent need for help
However, despite the seriousness, funding for humanitarian aid for the Cabo Delgado crisis only accounts for 1% of the total, and “more resources are needed immediately to meet the needs of people fleeing the violence in Palma “.
Almost 12,800 people -43% children- They have arrived in the districts of Nangade, Mueda, Montepuez and Pemba after the violence, although many more are expected to continue to move in search of safety and assistance.
The humanitarian assistance deployment in Mozambique is assisting the displaced at points of arrival and expanding the humanitarian response in Cabo Delgado, where More than 500,000 people have received humanitarian assistance so far in 2021.
In this critical context, the United Nations has once again appealed “to all parties to the conflict in Cabo Delgado to protect civilians. “
Jihadist attacks since 2017
Since October 2017, the province of Cabo Delgado has been the scene of attacks by Islamist militiamen known as Al Shabab, unrelated to the homonymous group that operates in Somalia and has ties to Al Qaeda.
On March 24, jihadist groups launched an attack in Palma, a coastal city in that province, where they are also developing millionaire gas projects captained by the French multinational Total, reports Efe.
In the attack, which lasted several days, dozens of people died – including at least two foreigners – and some 14,000 have been displaced, after a hundred armed men besiege the city, decapitate civilians and ambush a convoy of 17 vehicles who was trying to reach the coast to flee by sea to Pemba, the capital of Cabo Delgado about 250 kilometers from Palma
Some 670,000 displaced
According to the UN, some 670,000 Mozambicans have already been displaced from their homes in northern Cabo Delgado since the aforementioned group known locally as Al Shabab began its violent campaign in 2017.
Since 2019, a defeated Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria has claimed responsibility for some of these attacks in the name of the so-called Islamic State of Central Africa (ISCA). Among them, the task on the 24th, one of the bloodiest and in which the attackers have shown greater coordination to date.
Location of the Cabo Delgado region, in Mozambique.GOOGLE MAPS
However, analysts assure that it is first and foremost a local insurgency -with weak ties with IS- and to which, above all, Mozambican mujahideen have adhered, who use to justify their actions poverty, illiteracy and high unemployment rate to which, for decades, the Government of Maputo has subjected the Cabo Delgado region, reports Efe.
“Children are being a target in this conflict. They are being killed, kidnapped and forced to leave their homes behind. and security, “denounced the NGO Save The Children, a day after a parish priest from the diocese of Pemba warned that there was evidence that children were being trained and indoctrinated by jihadists.
Since 2017, Al Shabab has caused more than 2,740 dead, including more than 1,360 civilians, according to the latest figures from the Armed Conflict Events and Location Data Project (ACLED).