Prelate Bemoans Surge of Internally Displaced Persons amid Attacks in Mozambique

A woman washes her hands at shelter distribution for displaced families in Metuge district in Cabo Delgado.
Credit: United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Mozambique is increasing on a daily basis due to protracted insecurity, a situation that is a source of concern for the Bishop of Pemba Diocese, which covers Cabo Delgado, a province in the Northern part of the Southern African country that has been worst hit by the insurgence.

In an interview with ACI Africa correspondent in Mozambique on Wednesday, September 30, Bishop Luiz Fernando Lisboa said that centers that have been accommodating victims of the insurgent attacks are already full.

“Besides the reception centers that are in Metunge, near Pemba, the displaced have come to the city of Pemba and are in several districts of Cabo Delgado where there have been no attacks yet the Districts of the Central and South Zone are full,” Bishop Lisboa said, and added that each of the Districts receives more than 30 thousand refugees.

He explained, “There are thousands in Nampula and Zambezia without counting those that are in the provinces of Niassa.”

“The situation has worsened because the displaced know that Pemba is crowded, the Districts are full, and then they begin to leave the province,” the member of the Congregation of the Passion of Jesus Christ (CP - Passionists) added.

Earlier, Bishop Lisboa had decried the humanitarian crisis that has affected his jurisdiction, leaving hundreds of thousands displaced and called on the international community to help end the crisis, which he said had destabilized the Province of Cabo Delgado.

“The impact of the crisis is fatal; it has hit every province and all the inhabitants of Cabo Delgado Province,” Bishop Lisboa told ACI Africa during the August interview, and added, “There are more than 250,000 displaced people scattered throughout the province in need of assistance.”

“The people need solidarity and in addition to helping to end the crisis, we need to feed all these displaced people. We need food, medicine, clothes, blankets, all the help is needed to help the displaced people,” he had appealed in August.

In the September 30 interview with ACI Africa correspondent, the Brazilian-born Prelate said that the situation in Cabo Delgado was dire and had left reception centers in the Province “with no possibility of welcoming so many people at once.”

“The situation of the internal refugees continues to get worse because the numbers have been getting worse every day from the time that Bilibiza was attacked,” Bishop Lisboa said, referencing one of the most brutal attacks in the region.

He highlighted some of the desperate situations of the IDPs who were forced to walk for several miles seeking refuge in camps, which he said were now home to hundreds of families.

Expressing fear that the condition of refugees in the country could only get worse, the Local Ordinary of Pemba Diocese said, “We are approaching the rainy weather and this isn't good for the displaced people who are only living in makeshift tents. Those who live in the cities are living on borrowed time in people’s backyards with no shelter.”

Meanwhile, commenting on the return of liturgical celebrations in public amid COVID-19, Bishop Liboa expressed his appreciation to the faithful who were already participating in church activities with great caution.

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Father Don Bosco Onyalla
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