AFRICA/MOZAMBIQUE - The violence of "nameless armed groups" paralyzes the North of the country

Friday, 15 November 2019 violence   armed groups   civil society   human rights  

Pemba (Agenzia Fides) - There is no peace for the north of Mozambique. After months of attacks on villages which caused the death of many people and many were wounded, raids were carried out on the main roads, blocking the social and economic life of the entire region. "The journey from Pemba airport to the district of Mocimboa da Praia was desolating. In addition to the devastation caused by the cyclone Iday, there is also the destruction caused by the militiamen. Entire villages are abandoned by the inhabitants who, out of fear, do not dare to return", says Sister Mariaelena Aceti, General Councilor of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Chambery, to Agenzia Fides, who has just returned to Italy from a visit to the local communities of her own congregation.
The militants have adopted a particularly violent strategy. They do not just terrorize peasants, they coldbloodedly kill them. But who are these militiamen? the religious points out: "Nobody knows exactly. They are said to be local youth. There is talk of members of jihadist movements. Certainly there are also foreigners: Tanzanians or Mozambicans who have been to Tanzania and have returned. For this reason security forces have strengthened border controls".
In July, Mgr. Luiz Fernando Lisboa, Bishop of the diocese of Pemba, wrote an "Open
letter to the People of Cape Delgado", talking about this situation forgotten by the world. The prelate launched an appeal to the people: "Let us not resign ourselves to violence and let us not get tired of asking for justice and peace". The Bishop observes: "Like ghosts, the rebels (against whom or against what) appear and disappear without being seen, leaving only remains of disasters behind them. But we know that ghosts do not exist. It is a piece of sheet that hides something or someone. We have to remove this sheet to unmask those who hide behind".
"The suspicion - continues Sister Mariaelena - is that, behind these attacks, economic interests are hidden for the exploitation of natural resources. This region is rich in precious stones (rubies), precious wood and especially oil. There is fear that human trafficking of organs and illicit substances are carried out. Mgr. Luiz asked for precise and clear investigations".
In reality, the police were deployed en masse just before the October 15 elections, but failed to stop the attacks. The words of Mgr. Luiz have been defined as "defeatists" by supporters and by the press close to president Filipe Nyussi.
"The situation - concludes Sister Mariaelena - is very sad and worrying.
The entrances and exits of Mocimboa da Praia are allowed only to convoys escorted by soldiers. Circulation is limited. People are afraid. The same religious fear for their safety. And this happens in the silence of the great mass media". (EC) (Agenzia Fides, 15/11/2019)