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Displacement crisis grows in Mozambique

14 March 20240 comments

More than 110,000 people have been displaced since end of last year by the resurgent attacks by armed militia groups in Mozambique, according to the UN’s migration agency IOM.

The escalation of violence, mostly in the northern Cabo Delgado Province, represents the second-largest wave of displacement in Cabo Delgado since the onset of the conflict in 2017, and underscoring the deepening humanitarian crisis in the area.

The violence has seen a horrifying increase, with affected communities bearing the brunt of these relentless attacks.

IOM has been responding to the humanitarian emergency, providing essential aid to over 22,000 recently displaced individuals.

The organisation has been managing displacement sites, delivering shelter, healthcare, mental health support, and coordinating a multifaceted response to meet the escalating needs.

Despite these efforts, the magnitude of the crisis continues to outstrip available resources, highlighting a gap that urgently needs to be addressed, IOM says.   

An IOM report describes how one family fled the violence.

“We left our village in Ocua, Chiure, in the dead of night, scared because of those attacks happening nearby. We didn’t bring anything with us, just the clothes on our backs. It’s not just me, there’s nine of us from my family, including the little ones. We’re all in this together, trying to stay safe and keep each other going,” said Carlota, a displaced woman.

IOM Mozambique Chief of Mission Dr Laura Tomm-Bonde said: “In the face of this harrowing crisis, the International Organization for Migration stands resolute in our commitment to providing support to those affected.”

“The challenges we face in meeting the needs of the displaced are significant. Our resources, including essential items, are dwindling rapidly, threatening to leave thousands already in vulnerable situation at risk, including women, children, and the elderly,” she said.

IOM says the escalating crisis has placed a considerable strain on IOM’s Mobile Teams and Clinics, which are instrumental in providing health, nutrition, and psychosocial support across affected districts.

“The rising demand for mental health services and increased protection efforts against Gender-Based Violence and Sexual Exploitation and Abuse further compounds the urgency for enhanced support capabilities,” an IOM statement said.

“Despite substantial on-the-ground efforts to accommodate new arrivals and ensure coordinated response efforts, a significant funding shortfall jeopardizes the continuation of essential services.

“With only 15 per cent of the required $US43 million under the Humanitarian Response Plan 2024 secured, the looming risk of unmet needs could exacerbate an already critical situation. 

“As part of the Joint Response Programme in partnership with the World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), emergency household Item comprising of shelter tarps, blankets, mosquito nets, kitchen sets, and sleeping mats have been distributed to 1,255 households. “Additionally, food and hygiene kits have been provided, though the demand far exceeds the available resources, highlighting the escalating needs amid this crisis,” the statement said.

Dr Tomm-Bonde said: “The immediate and future needs of the displaced populations in Mozambique demand our collective attention and action. Beyond immediate relief, we are committed to addressing the root causes of the crisis and promote sustainable peace and development by combining humanitarian aid interventions with development, and peacebuilding initiatives.”

The conflict in Mozambique began in 2017 when Islamists and jihadists attempting to establish an Islamic state attacked Mozambican security forces.

But civilians have been the main targets of most terrorist attacks by the militants. The main insurgent faction is Ansar al-Sunna, a native extremist faction with international connections to ISIS.