Catholic Charity Calls for Renewed Humanitarian Advocacy as Mozambican IDPs Face Famine

An IDP Camp in Mozambique. Credit: DHPI

The Catholic charity, Denis Hurley Peace Institute (DHPI), has warned of impending famine in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado, noting that IDPs in the embattled province are already experiencing food shortage.

In a Friday, February 3 interview with ACI Africa, DHPI Director, Johan Viljoen, said that the humanitarian situation in Cabo Delgado may deteriorate should the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) stop food distribution in the province as the agency had already foreseen.

In November last year, WFP described Cabo Delgado as “the most food insecure province in Mozambique”, expressing fear that the UN agency could be forced to suspend aid to the hungry owing to a shortage in funding.

“The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is today warning that it will be forced to suspend its life-saving assistance to one million people – at the peak of the hunger season in February – unless additional funding is urgently received,” the UN agency announced last year, and added, “Cabo Delgado is the most food insecure province in Mozambique and food security continues to deteriorate.”

According to WFP, nearly 1.15 million people in the Mozambican province are suffering “crisis” or “emergency” hunger.


Highlighting the assistance it provides to the victims of terrorist attacks in Cabo Delgado, the UN agency, however, expressed concern that its funding situation “has been worrisome for some time, and we are now running out of options.”

In the February 3 interview with ACI, Mr. Viljoen said that stopping food distribution in Cabo Delgado may have “severe” implications among the IDPs who are already struggling.

“The humanitarian situation in Cabo Delgado is already dire. I was there towards the end of last year and the people had not received rainfall for a very long time. Up to now, they have not planted anything. They only rely on aid,” Mr. Viljoen said.

The DHPI Director said that for a long time, WFP has been the main source of aid to the IDPs who have been forced to live in camps by the Al-Shabaab.

“The people are fully dependent on WFP. Yes, we have Caritas Nampula, Caritas Pemba, and other Church and nongovernmental organizations that are trying their best to fill the gaps but these organizations combined do not have enough funds to sustain the IDPs who are about one million,” he said.

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Violence in Cabo Delgado has intensified in recent months, with unprecedented attacks in districts close to its capital, Pemba, and in neighboring Nampula province, forcing more and more people to flee their villages.

According to the November last year WFP report, the number of displaced people has quadrupled to nearly one million people in the last two years.

WFP has been providing emergency assistance to displaced people, including in previously inaccessible areas such as Macomia, Muidumbe, Nangade, Palma, and Quissanga.

The UN agency says that it has, however, “had to cut rations in recent months”, leaving the IDPs in Cabo Delgado to survive with very little.

The agency reports that in addition to challenges to fund its food assistance operations, it is faced with funding shortfalls for the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) that runs on behalf of the entire humanitarian community.


“WFP needs US$ 51 million to continue delivering life-saving assistance to one million people and provide much-needed services,” the agency has appealed in a past report.

In the interview with ACI Africa, Johan underlines the need “to strengthen advocacy in Europe and America” to strengthen WFP which, according to the Director of the peace entity of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC), “is the only humanitarian agency capable of handling the crisis in Cabo Delgado.”

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.