‘Hunger, thirst and disease’ a threat to Christians amid Mozambique jihadist attacks 

Originally published in Premier Christian News

Mozambique is facing a worsening humanitarian crisis as jihadist attacks in the north displace thousands of Christians and Muslims. 

The conflict has already displaced over 1 million people and claimed close to 5 000 lives, according to the latest figures.

Bishop António Juliasse of Mozambique fears the situation will continue to deteriorate, with “hunger, thirst, and disease” posing imminent threats to the displaced population. 

The bishop, speaking to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), painted a grim picture of the situation. Militant groups affiliated with ISIS have raided over 12 densely-populated villages so far, forcing residents to flee to cities in search of safety. 

“They are fleeing from villages that have been reduced to ashes,” he said. “They carry only what they can, in a bundle on their heads, or on the family bicycle – that’s all they have left.” 

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Fear of future attacks drives even those whose villages haven’t been targeted to flee. “Those whose villages might be next in line are also running,” the bishop added. 

He urged the world not to “forget the forgotten faces” suffering in Mozambique and called for a peaceful resolution to the conflict. The Catholic Church itself has been actively providing aid to the displaced, offering counselling, shelter, and other forms of support. 

Christians are a minority in northern Mozambique, but both Christian and Muslim communities have historically coexisted peacefully. However, the recent insurgency has seen an increase in attacks targeting Christian communities and institutions. 

John Pontifex, spokesperson for ACN, has made many trips to Africa and is on the frontline of offering support to the displaced people during this conflict. 

He told Premier Christian News that he fears particularly for the Christian communities in the area. “The Christian community, which is already under a lot of pressure, has seen these attacks only worsen just as late and we’re very, very concerned for that community. We’re seeing an upsurge of militant jihadist activity”. 

Pontifex pointed out how he is seeing a “massive displacement of people” and added that there is a “huge number of people desperate to flee and desperate to find a way from the violence”. 

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