AFRICA/MOZAMBIQUE - Kidnapped nuns freed, the Bishop: "We ask for peace"

Monday, 7 September 2020 bishops   jihadists   nuns   human rights   violence   armed groups  

Mocímboa da Praia (Agenzia Fides) - The two sisters of the congregation of St. Joseph of Chambery kidnapped on 12 August in Mocímboa da Praia (Mozambique) have been freed. This was announced yesterday, September 6, by Mgr. Luiz Fernando Lisboa, Bishop of Pemba. "The nuns – highlights the Bishop in a note sent to Agenzia Fides - are safe and sound. Inês and Eliane, who work in the parish of Mocímboa da Praia, after twenty-four days spent in prisons, are back among us".
The two nuns of Brazilian origin had been kidnapped during a furious attack by al-Shabab militias, on Tuesday 12 August, in Mocímboa da Praia, an important center in the province of Cabo Delgado. On that occasion, the police and the armed forces were forced to withdraw hastily, leaving the militia free for a few days. During that period, the nuns were kidnapped from their community and taken away. For a few days nothing was known about them, but the national and international authorities immediately mobilized to facilitate their release. The negotiations were successful.
The action against Mocímboa da Praia demonstrated a qualitative leap in the operations of these militias that claim to be "jihadists". If in 2017, when they started attacking the villages of the province of Cabo Delgado, they traveled aboard old scooters and used rudimentary weapons (machetes, spears, etc.), lately operations are carried out aboard brand new off-road vehicles with the use of automatic weapons and show a large ability to move on the ground. Who supplied them with the armaments? Who trained these militiamen? According to some analysts, they may not so much belong to jihadist groups, but militias linked to large criminal organizations that are creating bases for the international drug trade. Over the past two years, their actions have created instability in the area and displaced hundreds of people.
The Sisters of St. Joseph of Chambery found themselves in the midst of the fighting and were kidnapped. The nuns have been present in the town of Mocímboa da Praia since 2003. Over the years they have created a dense network of nursery schools and a social center. Their presence has offered a great contribution to the literacy of local boys and girls. Unfortunately, with the intensification of military actions in the area, many of these schools have had to close and activities have focused mainly on Mocímboa da Praia.
"Let us raise together a hymn of thanksgiving to God - writes Bishop Lisboa - and let us continue to pray for all those who are still missing, displaced and suffering the consequences of violence and war. We ask God's blessing for Cabo Delgado and to grant the gift of true peace that we need so much!". (EC) (Agenzia Fides, 7/9/2020)