Originally published in Agenzia Fides
The exodus of inhabitants from Pemba continues after the small town in northern Mozambique was attacked on March 24 by a jihadist group that claims to be affiliated with ISIS.
According to IOM (International Organization for Migrants), the number of displaced from Pemba has increased in a week from 30 000 to 36 000 people, contradicting the reassuring statements of the authorities who have affirmed that “the situation is under control”.
Instead, the influx of displaced people is constant and worse by the day, according to local IOM officials. Many refugees flee by land or on foot, others by sea on makeshift boats.
The few testimonies from Pemba speak of night-time shootings that prevent the population from resting, and that are actually a true psychological torture, and of burning houses, it is not known whether committed by the rebels, the military or both.
The suffering of the population of the province of Cabo Delgado, in northern Mozambique, has led the bishops of southern Africa to urge the government of Maputo to request the help of the international community to resolve the crisis.
In a statement sent to Agenzia Fides, the Standing Committee of the Interregional Meeting of the Bishops of Southern Africa (IMBISA1) asks: “the government of Mozambique not to spare any efforts in involving the international community in order to face violence in Cabo Delgado which unfortunately led to the loss of human lives and means of subsistence.”
Referring to the assault on the city of Palma, the Bishops of Southern Africa say they are concerned about “the displacement of more than half a million citizens in the province of Cabo Delgado,” which has meant that many residents can no longer enjoy a normal life where they can raise their children in peace and quiet.
Even the elderly, who have spent many years there, have been uprooted and forced to flee. This means that they cannot enjoy the beauty of old age that allows them to maintain their relationship with the land in which they grew up.
1IMBISA brings together the Bishops of Angola, Botswana, ESwatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Sao Tome and Principe, South Africa and Zimbabwe. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 5/5/2021)