Southern African church leaders call for intervention in terror crisis in northern Mozambique

Residents of Cabo Delgado province, Mozambique

The terrorist insurgency in northern Mozambique is not just a Mozambican problem but is a Southern African regional emergency that cannot be ignored by governments of the region, says the Fellowship of Christian Councils in Southern Africa (FOCCISA) in a statement released this week.

According to the statement FOCCISA has received a report of brutal attacks on civilians in Cabo Delgado province, Mozambique with “horrible beheadings of people, collection and trafficking of parts of human bodies and the large-scale displacement of populations into poverty as refugees in neighbouring provinces”,

“We heard of attacks on isolated villages, burning houses, executing their opponents and robbing commercial stores, using attack and escape tactics. We listened with horror to reports of the murder of civilian populations, often with dismemberment and mutilation. More than 10% of the province’s population has been displaced,” says the statement.

Fides News Agency quotes former Bishop of Pemba, Luiz Fernando Lisboa, as saying that the Islamist insurgency has been going on for three years and four months and has led to 600 000 people fleeing the province and the deaths of more than 2 000 others.

In its statment, FOCCISA, which represents 12 national Christian ecumenical councils in Southern Africa, urges “human rights organisations of our countries and the African Commission on Human Rights to urgently address the human rights crisis in Mozambique”.

It also “calls on the countries and governments of the Southern African Development Committee (SADC) individually and collectively to respond urgently to the insurrection in Mozambique, as in fact, this is not a Mozambican crisis, and very soon it will involve the entire region and impact physically and economically, on the lives and livelihoods of the poor in the region”.

Noting similar patterns of insurrection in other parts of Africa, such as in the Democratic Republic of Congo and other parts of East and Central Africa, FOCCISA implores the African Union (AU) to get involved and help mobilise resources to support the government and people of Mozambique to quell the insurgency and ensure that perpetrators are brought to book.

The statement continues: “Further, we implore the United Nations (UN) to keep a close eye on these crisis situations besieging our beloved continent before it is too late, when it leads to the dismantling of the Mozambican State due to the greed, driven by the considerable natural resources of Cabo Delgado.

“We appeal to business entities to raise their hands to provide help to this stricken province. We call on mobile network operators to consider offering free calls or even a certain quota of free calls and texts for people to raise the alarm and seek help. Motor vehicle companies could offer support to the humanitarian aid agencies and churches with off-road vehicles to transport essential supplies to mitigate the harshness of their experience; and vehicles to provide for field health services and to support the security services. In this desperation we have children, mothers, disabled people, chronically sick and elderly people; not to mention victims ravaged by COVID-I 9, struggling to breathe. Companies involved in resource extraction in the province must contribute to the finding of lasting solutions of the Province, and not limit themselves to the safety of their operations. We appeal to every sector to play their role in the hour of want.

“As FOCCISA, we strongly call upon the Government of Mozambique to take full charge of, and responsibility for the security and safety of its citizens and dwellers of the land. 13. This socio-economic and humanitarian complexity is clearly also a governance and military challenge, requiring proactiveness by the Government. However, we learn that the Mozambican Government appears ambivalent about recognising this for what it is, downplaying it to a police matter of criminality. We appeal for the courage to act on this with the requisite level of engagement.

” The Government must introspect about the social and economic factors that make Cabo Delgado fertile and ripe for this type of insurrection so as to address the drivers of this conflict. In this process, the government and the people of Mozambique can work together in the rebuilding of their society, and to work with affected communities for a clearly improved quality of life, for which Jesus our Lord came, “That all may have life and have it more abundantly,’ (John 10:10).

“As the Church in Southern Africa, we commit to praying with you, particularly during this season of Lent and up to Pentecost. We submit ourselves to focused prayer for divine interventions in your land. As FOCCISA we shall work with the Christian Council of Mozambique in declaring a time of simultaneous prayer for the grace of restoration and the peace of God. 16. To the churches and the Mozambican people, hear the words of the Prophet Isaiah, “Do not fear, because I am with you, do not fear, because I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will support you with my victorious right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10).”

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