Mozambique: Almost 12,000 flee new wave of attacks in Cabo Delgado

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) estimates that almost 12,000 people have already fled the new wave of attacks on Cabo Delgado that began about a week ago, this time in the south of the province, which was considered a safe zone.

“Fear of further attacks beyond those confirmed in Ancuabe district by non-state armed groups triggered the movement of 11,737 people,” reads Tuesday’s IOM report on the situation.

More than half are children and there are at least 125 pregnant women among the terrorised population, some of whom are fleeing for a second time, abandoning places where they were starting life anew.

The new wave of attacks is hitting areas around 100 kilometres from Pemba, which already served as refuge for people forced in recent years to leave the worst affected areas to the north, with the epicentre in districts close to the gas extraction projects under construction.

The IOM argued in a statement that people should only return to the areas from which they fled “on a voluntary basis”, countering initiatives by the authorities who last week mobilised cars to return residents to the areas they left.

“This may encourage displaced people to return to areas where their life, security, freedom and health are at risk,” the IOM warns, while stressing that “the key principles of return require that it be voluntary, in safety and with dignity.”

Testimonies to Lusa last week reported at least eight deaths since June 5, including of community leaders, some by decapitation, at a time when residents complain that several are still missing.

In one of the attacks, security guards at a graphite mine used in new electric car batteries were shot dead, while another company mining the same material has suspended logistical operations along the province’s main road.

Cabo Delgado province is rich in natural gas but has been terrorised since 2017 by armed rebels, with some attacks claimed by the extremist group Islamic State.

There are 784,000 internally displaced people due to the conflict, according to IOM, and around 4,000 deaths, according to the ACLED conflict registration project.

Since July 2021, an offensive by government troops with Rwandan support later joined by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has allowed areas where there was a rebel presence to recover, but their flight has provoked new attacks in other districts used as passage or temporary refuge.

Source: Lusa / DW

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