Dozens of children abducted by fighters in Mozambique

The province of Cabo Delgado in insurgency, Mozambique The province of Cabo Delgado in insurgency, Mozambique Credit to BlookyNapsta

 09 June 2021

As the fighting of armed groups worsens in Mozambique, the number of kidnapped children increases

According to a Save the Children report, at least 51 children were kidnapped by fighters in conflict-hit northern Mozambique in 2020. Numbers involved were likely higher than its estimates, which were based on data collected by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) and reflected only reported cases.

Attacks by an non-state armed group locally known as al-Shabab, whose origins, analysts say, are steeped in local political, religious and economic discontent, have steadily increased in the Cabo Delgado province since October 2017. The estimations of Save The Children suggests that here the worsening fighting over the past three-and-a-half years has killed nearly 3,000 people and displaced more than 700,000, half of whom are children. The fighters linked to the Islamic State (ISIS) have ransacked towns and gained control of the main roadways, destroying infrastructure and beheading civilians. In some cases, they have forced locals into their ranks or held them as sex slaves.

As said by Thomson Reuters Foundation, armed groups in Mozambique are increasingly kidnapping children as a warfare tactic, putting victims at risk of sexual violence, early marriage and being used as fighters in the country’s worsening conflict. According to the US-based SITE Intelligence Group sources, a jihadist video distributed in August last year, filmed in either Mozambique or the Democratic Republic of Congo, showed three gun-toting children flanked by adults in front of an IS banner. 

The United Nations (UN) claimed abducting a child constitutes one of the six grave violations against children in times of conflict. Still, the phenomenon is increasing: the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it had registered more than 2,600 appeals in Mozambique between September 2020 and April 2021 from people who lost track of family members, most of whom are young adults and children. Save the Children called for the immediate release of all abducted children and for the perpetrators to be held to account.




Author: Jasmina Saric; Editor: Gianpaolo Mascaro 

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