Thousands in Mozambique flee due to more jihadist attacks


The Mozambican government confirmed on Tuesday that thousands of people have been driven from their homes in a wave of jihadist attacks in the conflict-ridden north of the country. However, the country rejected calls for a state of emergency.

“We are talking here about 67,321 uprooted people,” Filimao Suaze said at a media release in the capital Maputo about the situation in Cabo Delgado province.

The figure is in line with the total of “14,270 families who arrived in Nampula province and elsewhere”.

However, Suaze says the government “believes the conditions for declaring a state of emergency in Cabo Delgado have not been created”.

Renewed uprisings broke out in northern Mozambique two weeks ago.

The United Nations (UN) Migration Agency (IOM) puts the number of those who fled attacks in Macomia, Chiure, Mecufi, Mocimboa da Praia and Muidumbe between December 22 and February 25 (Sunday) at 71,681.

Just between last Wednesday and Thursday, the IOM recorded more than 30,000 displaced people arriving in the town of Namapa, just south of Cabo Delgado province. Most of them fled there by buses, boats and even on foot.

“The primary need reported in all the districts includes food, shelter and non-food items, as well as health services and support,” said an IOM spokesperson.

The insurgency erupted in October 2017 when fighters – who have since claimed to be affiliated with the Islamic State (IS) – attacked the coastal area of ​​Cabo Delgado. The area is rich in gas and is close to the Tanzanian border.

Since July 2021, thousands of troops from Rwanda and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have been deployed to reinforce the Mozambican army. They have since helped the government regain control of the region.

The SADC mission expires in mid-July.

Suaze told reporters he refused “to talk about this, at least not now”.

He maintained that Mozambique is doing “everything it can” to “fight terrorists” and ensure the safety of the population to such an extent that the withdrawal or presence of a “certain force” is not worth mentioning.

“The government pays attention to this,” he says.

Temporary shelter

Pres. Filipe Nyusi confirmed the major shift last week, but downplayed the threat and insisted that local security forces had the situation under control.

The government also said a temporary emergency shelter for uprooted families had been set up in the Erati district, which borders Cabo Delgado.

Around 5,000 people have been killed and almost a million forced to flee their homes since the IS-related militants launched the insurgency.