AFRICA/MOZAMBIQUE - Wave of IDPs in the northern province, caused by violence and destruction

Tuesday, 23 June 2020 refugees   human rights   violence   jihadists  

Nampula (Agenzia Fides) - "People are terrified and run away from villages. There are now only two thousand in Namialo, more than 300 here in Nampula. They flee the violence and destruction that has been shaking the northern province of Cabo Delgado for several months. The situation is delicate". This is how Arlain Pierre, a Scalabrinian missionary in Nampula, describes the delicate political, military and social situation of Northern Mozambique to Fides.
"No one knows who the perpetrators of these attacks are", continues Father Arlain. They have proclaimed themselves Jihadist militiamen belonging to the Islamic State. Some analysts have said they are a pawn in a struggle for control of the oil wells that the region is rich in. Hard to say what the truth is. The thesis according to which they are militiamen and linked to drug trafficking has currently spread. Thesis that could come close to reality because the North of Mozambique could become a strategic area for the traffic of drugs from Central Asia".
Faced with the first attacks, the State reacted mildly. The military and policemen responded as best they could, but were often overwhelmed. "Now - continues the missionary - President Filipe Nyusi has recognized the emergency and has sent some military reinforcement departments. There has been talk of the presence of Russian mercenaries and South African soldiers, personally I have not seen foreign soldiers passing through our territory. But I do not feel like ruling out that there are foreign fighters. The same president asked for help from neighboring countries speaking of this threat as a common danger".
IDPs arrive in the province of Nampula in difficult conditions. Many escaped the violence and fled home with what little they could take away. They therefore lack everything. "The community of Nampula - observed Father Arlain - has mobilized. 300 people were welcomed in the parish of the Holy Cross, run by the Comboni Missionaries. Others were hosted by families who live in the city, but are originally from Cabo Delgado. Internally displaced people really need everything. Even medical assistance because they have suffered serious psychological trauma".
Even in the population of Nampula there is fear. "This area - concludes the Scalabrinian - was one of the centers of the very long civil war that fought in Mozambique in the 1980s and early 1990s. The memory of the fighting and privations is still alive. So there is a fear that the new violence will also come here and involve the local population. Nobody wants to sink into a new conflict". (EC) (Agenzia Fides, 23/6/2020)