By Johan Viljoen, Reabetswe Tloubatla, Jeanette Lesisa
The number of people in Mozambique who have been internally displaced due to the war in Cabo Delgado, in the
north of the country, rose by 7% in the three months to February, 784,000 people, the International Organization for
Migration (IOM) said in its latest report on the conflict. In a survey carried out in January and February there were
49,100 more people recorded than in the previous one, concluded in November, according to the document.
Among the causes for the increase in the number of internally displaced persons are attacks by armed rebels in the areas of Nangade, Meluco, Macomia and in the Quirimbas archipelago. The figure also includes people displaced as a results of attacks in Niassa province in December. Most families fleeing the war are living in host communities, while about one quarter are in special camps. The capital of Cabo Delgado province, Pemba, is the district hosting the most internally displaced people (152,000), followed by Metuge (124,000), an adjacent area across the bay. At the other end of Cabo Delgado, the biggest destination is Mueda (85,000 internally displaced) in the north, close to the border with Tanzania. Children continue to account for around half of the displaced population, and food and shelter are the main needs, the IOM adds.
2. Renewed Attack on Macomia
Residents of Macomia, one of the main villages of Cabo Delgado fled into the woods on Thursday night 24 March
2022 due to gunfire in the vicinity. “Since 18:00 there were shots and we all went to sleep in the woods,” reported an
inhabitant from a hideout to Lusa, at a time when there is still no official information on the situation. The escape of the population was justified with the fears that armed rebels could return to the village and district office, as happened in 2020, although there are currently troops guarding the area.
The same source said that the shots began to be heard from the area where the Mozambican armed forces and
SAMIM, troops from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries, are based. The population of Macomia fears that it will become equally risky to access the fields around the village. Another source, linked to the local militias, said he was at home preparing a suitcase of clothes to head to Pemba, the provincial capital, due to renewed fears of insecurity in the village.
Before the conflict spread, Macomia was one of the main commercial and transport hubs in the province, being located in the middle of the only paved road connecting the north and south of Cabo Delgado, the national road 380. The district is about 200 kilometers south of Palma and Mocímboa da Praia, an area of gas projects, reconquered with the support of Rwandan forces in July 2021. Rebel groups fleeing the military offensive are suspected to be responsible for attacks that have taken place elsewhere in Cabo Delgado. Elsewhere in the region, in the far north, near the border with Tanzania, villages in Nangade district have been the target of rebel incursions since February.
3. SADC Forces Plan Reconstruction Phase
The SADC has embarked on an assessment period for capacity building initiatives in Cabo Delgado, with the aim of a long lasting solution to the turmoil in the northernmost region of Mozambique. Under the stewardship of Secretariat, Senior Officer, Defence Affairs and Planning- Colonel Abudu Mwaya, the exercise is to assess what programmes should be initiated to reverse the destruction of property from the fighting as well the displacement of people due to the fighting over the past two years. The aims of the assessment period will include deciding which programmes are needed to “develop well-tailored programmes to be undertaken, identify targeted groups to be capacitated and to engage with other actors on the ground implementing similar programmes so that the SADC complements their efforts rather than re-inventing the wheel”. While in Cabo Delgado, the assessment mission team met with various stakeholders who are responsible for different government institutions such as the Cabo Delgado Secretary of State, the Provincial Governor, the Director of Correctional Services, the Provincial Police Commander, the Instituto de Formação Profissional e Estudos Laborais Alberto Cassimo (IFPELEC), the Agency for Development in the North (ADIN), the Provincial Director for Youth and Sports, and the Director for Gender, children and Social welfare. They also interacted with UN agencies on the ground like the UN Population Fund, International Organisation for Migration, the UN Development Programme and the office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
In a successful mission, the SAMIM forces in Cabo Delgado, working together with the Mozambican Defence Force, routed ASWJ insurgents on an island north of Pemba last week. Located about 100kms away from the port city of Pemba, Matemo Island is one of an archipelago of islands that are popular as a tourist attraction. The island was attacked by attacked by ASWJ, however, SAMIM was able to respond quickly to force them to retreat. “The terrorists lost ground suffering casualties and serious injuries, including about eight fatalities. Ongoing offensive operations are expected to root out all elements of terrorism in Ibo and Matemo islands and make the area safe to live”, according to a communique by the SAMIM troops. This effort was after the Mozambican army themselves, in an assault effort, killed 20 insurgents in fighting that lasted about three days before backup from the SAMIM. Unfortunately, they also suffered 4 casualties in the fighting. When SAMIM troops arrived, they aided the FADM with hunting down the insurgents. “As Mandated, SAMIM will continue working jointly with FADM and co-ordinate collaboratively in other areas to ensure the safety of the Mozambican people is guaranteed. It is worth noting that SAMIM will always act in a professional and dignified manner in conducting operations”, the statement concluded.