Catholic Peace Entity Warns of “full-scale resumption of the war” in Northern Mozambique

A village in Mozambique. Credit: Courtesy Photo

The leadership of the Catholic peace foundation, Denis Hurley Peace Institute (DHPI), has warned of renewed attacks in some parts of Cabo Delgado Province which had been considered safe by the Mozambican government.

In an interview with ACI Africa, the Director of the peace entity of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) said that the renewed attacks in areas where Internally Displaced People (IDP’s) have signs of “a full-scale resumption of the war”.

“Based on reports from our Church sources on the ground about the renewed attacks, it seems as if this is a full-scale resumption of the war," John Viljoen said during the Wednesday, June 15 interview.

Mr. Viljoen added that the violence has returned "on the same level and with the same intensity that we saw a year and a half ago.”

“Hundreds and hundreds of people have fled Ancuabe District carrying bags on their heads. Ancuabe is about 90 km from the city of Pemba, so the attacks are coming closer and closer to Pemba," he said.


The Director of DHPI further said that testimonies of attacks in Chiure where the Scalabrini Sisters have a temporary mission have been gathered. He said during the June 15 interview, "Villages were attacked and people were beheaded” in an attack that took place last weekend. 

“The fear is spreading, people fear this is a return to full scale conflict and war in Cabo Delgado,” Mr. Viljoen said, adding, "There is great concern about the attacks in Chiure and Ancuabe. We do have missionaries and Priests and Nuns in those areas.”

He went on to regret the fact that the coverage of the war in Ukraine has overshadowed the Mozambican crisis. “It's a developing situation and of course with the war in Ukraine; these latest attacks haven’t even made it onto any global news media, it is a cause for great concern," the Director of the peace entity of SACBC told ACI Africa. 

In January, DHPI officials faulted reports that the Rwandan and Mozambican forces had stopped the operations of terrorists in Cabo Delgado saying they continue “to receive numerous reports of ongoing atrocities against civilians, in the areas supposedly stabilized by Rwandan and Mozambican forces." 

The Ministry of Defense (MOD) officials in Rwanda had reported that the partnership between its military forces and those of Mozambique had been successful in "stopping and neutralizing the Ansar Al Sunnah Terrorists" who had been operating in Cabo Delgado.

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In the June 15 interview with ACI Africa, the DHPI official said the violence in Mozambique’s Northernmost Province is not religious as reported by the media. 

“The whole media depiction of this as a religious conflict to establish an Islamic State is not the truth. The truth is that this is a conflict over mineral resources and that we have to see who are the ones who are profiteering from the war," said Mr. Viljoen.

Making reference to a recent report in which the President of the Episcopal Conference of Mozambique (CEM) clarified on minerals as the cause of the violence, the Director of the peace entity of SACBC said, “Archbishop Inácio is saying what we've been saying the whole time, and what everybody in the North of Mozambique has been telling us.”

Mr. Viljoen also said that Catholic Bishops in Mozambique are "100% correct" by saying Cabo Delgado is not yet safe for the IDPs to return. 

“As I say, it's a developing story. We will see where it is headed, but I think the position of our church leaders has been vindicated in view of the latest developments”, DHPI Director said during the June 15 interview.


Sheila Pires is a veteran radio and television Mozambican journalist based in South Africa. She studied communications at the University of South Africa. She is passionate about writing on the works of the Church through Catholic journalism.