Bishop of Pemba on Current Situation in Cabo Delgado

The below interview with Bishop Juliasse Sandramo was published on:

On 11 September:
Concerned about the worsening violence in the province of Cabo Delgado, António Juliasse Ferreira Sandramo,
bishop of the diocese of Pemba considers that the situation will not be resolved if it is only treated as a military
matter. The bishop fears that the war in Ukraine will be a serious drama that, moreover, is already going beyond the
borders of Cabo Delgado province, having recently targeted Nacala, in the neighboring province of Nampula.
In the conversation he had with 7MARGENS in Braga, D. António Juliasse explained that a severe problem felt in Cabo Delgado after the beginning of the war in Ukraine was the lack of support from the World Food Program (WFP). WFP’s work, which is getting humanitarian aid to areas that urgently need it, had allowed something extraordinary: no hunger deaths among displaced people fleeing violence. The end of this aid will prevent the aid of more than 850,000 displaced people, says the bishop of Pemba, indicating that as a result of the most recent attacks, there are 8,000 new displaced people. “Without the help of the international community, nothing can be done,” says António Juliasse. It therefore underlines that Mozambique must remain a global priority. “There can be no first-line victims and second-line victims.” The Conflict of Cabo Delgado can not be forgotten, becoming a “normal subject”, making the misfortune of those who have to walk 200 kilometers to try to be hosted by families in extremely precarious conditions is indifferent.

It has been possible that there are no deaths from food shortages and, at least, it must continue to be guaranteed, this is what is urgently needed immediately, says the bishop, stressing the need to re-count on the help of the World Food Programme. Involved in combating hunger, Caritas Diocesana de Pemba alone cannot suppress it.

As for the conflict, which has been widespread – a few days ago, the attack of armed men on the Mission of Chipene, in the diocese of Nacala, in the neighboring province of Nambula, caused the death of an Italian Comboni religious, Maria de Coppi – causing a generalization of insecurity, the Bishop of Pemba considers the strategy that has been followed only militarily. Young people, potential targets of recruitment by jihadists, need to “offer horizons”. It is essential to create jobs, to eliminate poverty, to provide opportunities, says D. António Juliasse. “You have to keep people from getting lost,” he says. In other words, “Hope must be created.” An exclusively military response can eliminate two, three or four jihadists, but it will not prevent new recruitment.”

For the bishop of Pemba, rapid changes are needed in the way violence is dealt with. Extensive prevention work is needed, integrating all, including religious leaders and local leaders. The Government should take a more far-sighted approach and talk to Muslim and Catholic leaders. António Juliasse presents his own example: “I was never called to a meeting” for reflection.

The problems with food are obviously not the only ones. The list includes difficulties with rehousing and psychological problems. Violence has also forced many schools and health centres to be closed. In displaced persons reception sites, schools prepared to receive 1,000 children now have to receive 3,000, the bishop notes. And a lot of kids don’t even have the motivation to go to school. The younger ones find themselves deprived of a future.

World Youth Day (WYD) in Lisbon (august 2023), says António Juliasse, should pay some attention to young people who are being killed worldwide or who are victims of poverty and corruption. “How to think about this?” asks the prelate, calling for an extended interreligious dialogue for peace. And also asking that, in WYD, do not ignore what is happening in Mozambique. António Juliasse will be in the Vatican for the next few days also for the purpose of the Mozambican tragedy not to be forgotten.

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A euro, bishop D. António Juliasse said, allows a meal to be paid.