Web review

Web Review

L’Osservatorio monitors the web and other information sources daily to provide in-depth news on the impact of contemporary armed conflicts on civilians.

The Red Cross is committed to COVID-19 relief in Mozambique amid ongoing conflict. Several armed attacks in the Cabo Delgado area have forced families to flee to Pemba seeking refuge, but they are heading towards Mozambique's largest COVID-19 hotspot, where the country's largest COVID centre opened just today and is highlighting concerns of new infections.

Many families from Cabo Delgado have arrived in Pemba exhausted and traumatised after leaving their homes with few or no possessions. Here, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has just opened its largest COVID-19 treatment centre. The concern now is that a high number of people could be infected with Coronavirus as a result of this sequence of events, since the displaced families tend to seek help in Pemba, Mozambique's largest COVID-19 hotspot, and the Red Cross has expressed fears of new infections. Raoul Bittel, chief of operations of the Red Cross in Pemba, said that people fleeing the armed clashes risk swapping the mortal danger of conflict for the threat of COVID.

The new treatment centre will help the community to respond to the health crisis, but these families will not be able to return home until the fighting moves away from civilian housing areas. The risk of contracting COVID-19 in Pemba, meanwhile, is very real. Most displaced persons find refuge with families or relatives, placing an additional burden on them and increasing overcrowding, which aids the spread of COVID-19 because social distancing becomes impossible.

The hope is that facilities such as the COVID centre in Pemba will not suddenly become stretched to capacity, so that the provision of suitable treatments may be staggered and guaranteed to all, but if increased use becomes necessary then means must be found to deal with the pandemic. This is particularly important in the province of Cabo Delgado, with its high number of displaced persons and a greater concentration of people particularly susceptible to the risk of COVID-19 infection.

Recurring violence has plagued the resource-rich communities of Cabo Delgado since 2017, but has increased in frequency and intensity during 2020. Cities that were previously unscathed and which served as places of refuge for those fleeing attacks in more rural areas have come under fire. At the end of May, the city of Macomia, where the Red Cross had been working for a year to restore water and sanitation, was attacked, forcing the entire population to escape into the bushlands and then flee south using flimsy boats. The clashes also destroyed a maternity ward which the ICRC had repaired after damage from Cyclone Kenneth in 2019.


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Author: Andrea Bruno; English editor: Edward Jarvis

Category: Mozambique - Web Review
Friday, 25 September 2020