Insecurity and displacement plague civilians in Cabo Delgado

Civilians in Mozambique carrying their food portions Civilians in Mozambique carrying their food portions Photo by Lee Neuenburg on Reliefweb

14 May 2021

The international community fails to address the humanitarian needs of the people affected by the war in Mozambique

In the last months, the international community has shed increasing light on the conflict taking place in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province. This attention results in little improvement regarding the current humanitarian crisis of the region.

In March 2021, the United States government announced the designation of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria-Mozambique (ISIS-Mozambique) as a terrorist group. As a reaction to the escalation of the violence plaguing Cabo Delgado, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) - which is an inter-governmental organization intended to achieve peace and improve the quality of life of the peoples of Southern Africa- countries overtly condemned the terrorist attacks occurring in the province one month later. 

As the Director of the Analysis Department at Médecins Sans Frontières, Jonathan Whittall explains, “the focus on terrorism serves the strategical interests of the geopolitical powers intervening in Mozambique, but is unlikely to pull a plug on the human suffering which has been characterizing the region”. As Whittall states further, “the Syrian and Iraqi conflicts have shown how counter-terrorism measures often turn out to be detrimental to the humanitarian workers’ operations”.

It has been estimated that around 700000 people living in Cabo Delgado have lost their homes and have ended up gathering in overcrowded camps where supplies of food, water and electricity are not sufficient to ensure them a proper standard of living. Additionally, several civilians have suffered from psychological traumas, due to the appalling experiences -kidnapping, sexual abuse or loss of relatives- that they have faced during the conflict.  In light of the above, the international community should expand the scope of its focus, prioritizing the humanitarian needs of the thousands of civilians exposed to displacement, famine and heinous violence and providing them with the resources they need to cope with the conflict aftermath. 


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Author: Gianpaolo Mascaro; Editor: Emily Herstine

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