, 15 July, 2020 / 10:20 PM
Members of the European Parliament, the legislative arm of the European Union (EU), are concerned about the attacks by jihadists in Cabo Delgado Province, a region covered by Mozambique’s Pemba diocese.
The legislators have described the situation as “extremely worrying” and are calling on their respective nations to consider “taking action on this issue by helping the government of Mozambique.”
In a July 14 report shared with ACI Africa, the leadership of the Catholic pastoral aid organization, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) International, explains the deliberations of the European legislators.
On July 6, members of the External Affairs Committee of the EU parliament devoted their final session to the discussion of the three-year insurgent attacks in the rich but troubled northern region of Mozambique.
Paulo Rangel, the Portuguese EU parliamentary Deputy and Vice President of the Christian Democrat Party (PPE) who was among leaders of the executive arm of the European Union, the European Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS) termed the situation in Cabo Delgado as “extremely worrying.”
The Spanish Liberal party EU deputy, Javier Nart told fellow European legislators that “Mozambique must not be allowed to turn into a new Mali,” referencing the landlocked West African nation battling a myriad of conflicts including jihadist violence and transnational criminal networks.
“Africa cannot afford to allow itself yet another region under terrorist rule,” Erminia Notarangelo who heads the EEAS section for Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean cautioned.
She decried the plight of the “over 500,000 people affected by the humanitarian tragedy” in the region covered by the Catholic Diocese of Pemba as well as the unfortunate fatality of the “over a thousand people murdered and 200,000 displaced.”
Northern Mozambique has witnessed growing instability since October 2017 when Islamist jihadists attacked a military base and a police station in the Coastal town of Mocimboa da Praia, where foreign companies are undertaking a US$ 60 billion gas oil project. Two police officers died in the attack.
According to UN Reliefweb, the three-year violent insurgency has negatively affected the lives of over 600,000 people. More than 200,000 have been displaced and UNHCR is “expanding its presence in the province (Cabo Delgado) to better respond to the growing needs of the displaced population.”
Speaking to ACN after the July 6 session, Paul Rangel said the meeting had been “a first step towards the European Union once again putting Mozambique at the centre of its humanitarian concerns.”
“The victims in Mozambique know that they are not alone,” Mr. Rangel added.
He went on to announce his intention to ask Josep Borrell, the current High Representative of the EU for External Affairs and Security Policy, to arrange “an immediate meeting” to discuss Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado crisis, the leadership of ACN reported July 14.
The EU legislators’ deliberations seem a response to the call for help, which the Bishop of Pemba, Luiz Fernando Lisboa has made in his repeated voicing against the violence affecting his ecclesiastical jurisdiction.
In April, Bishop Lisboa told ACN about the “urgent necessity for an adequate response at the international level in order to check the Jihadist advance.”
The member of the Congregation of the Passion of Jesus Christ (Passionists – CP) termed the crisis as “an injustice that cries out to heaven.”
“It is important that people should know what is happening and that international organizations such as the United Nations, the European Union and the African Union take action,” the Brazilian-born Prelate told ACN and added, “I appeal for help and solidarity for my people, so that they may once more be able to live in peace, for that is what they desire and deserve.”
In a July 8 interview with Vatican News, Bishop Lisboa decried the situation of displaced persons in the Province of Cabo Delgado, describing the situation as “worrying” and one that has “plunged thousands of families into despair and suffering.”
Bishop Lisboa’s cry seems to be receiving attention from EU legislators, with their leadership enjoining in the cry.
“Over the last few weeks, I have been multiplying contacts and efforts with my fellow Members to raise awareness of this issue,” Mr. Rangel was quoted as saying July 7 in reference to the attacks in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado Province.
He added, “It is an invisible but rewarding job when we know we are supporting a just cause and when the end result is positive.”
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa