“This crisis has completely destabilized our province,” Bishop in Mozambique

Bishop Luiz Fernando Lisboa of Pemba Diocese within the Province of Cabo Delgado in Mozambique.
Credit: Public Domain

The Bishop of Mozambique’s Pemba Diocese within the Province of Cabo Delgado is decrying the increasing humanitarian crisis that has affected the people of God in his jurisdiction, with hundreds of thousands displaced.

In the Sunday, August 9 interview with ACI Africa correspondent in Mozambique, Bishop Luiz Fernando Lisboa reaches out to the international community to help end the crisis, which “has completely destabilized our province.”

“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 correspondent and added, “There are more than 250,000 displaced people scattered throughout the province in need of assistance.”

“Our people urgently need peace because this crisis has completely destabilized our province,” the Brazilian-born Prelate said, adding, “We call on the international community to come to our aid. 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.”

The level of insecurity in Mozambique has attracted condemnation from international bodies who have challenged the authorities in the Southern African nation to seek lasting solutions to the crisis.

On August 4, the leadership of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and ACT Alliance expressed concerns about the number of violent attacks involving armed groups in the country's northern and central provinces in recent years and urged Mozambique's President Filipe Nyusi to intervene and “put an end to these atrocities.”

In a letter to Mozambique’s President, the members of WCC, which represents more than 560 million Christians in 350 members churches worldwide and the aid coalition ACT Alliance say the northern and central provinces of Cabo Delgado, Manica, Sofala and Nampula in Mozambique have been suffering from “increasing incidences of armed attacks targeting the civilian population, commercial transportation, and properties” for the past three years.

Condemning the violence in the "strongest possible terms", those at the helm of WCC and ACT Alliance appeal to President Nyusi and his government “fulfil your duty to the people of Mozambique, for the protection of their lives, properties and livelihoods from the threat of violent attacks, displacement, compounded by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“We urge you and your government to intervene, ensure protection against rights violations, put an end to these atrocities, and ensure security for the affected communities, to intensify efforts towards peace and lasting solutions to the violence through dialogue,” WCC and ACT Alliance officials state in the joint letter signed by the interim General Secretary of WCC, Rev Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca and the General Secretary of the ACT Alliance, Rudelmar Bueno de Faria.

During the August 9 interview with ACI Africa correspondent, Bishop Lisboa who is a member of the Congregation of the Passion of Jesus Christ (CP – Passionists) expressed his appreciation for WCC and ACT Alliance concern toward the suffering people of Mozambique and appealed for concrete actions to save the hungry people displaced by the crisis.

He further said that the local Church has launched a campaign to seek assistance for displaced persons in Cabo Delgado.

“We recently started this campaign through Caritas Pemba to support these people. We are open to support at home and abroad,” the 64-year-old Prelate told ACI Africa correspondent.

In another interview, a Missionary of Africa Cleric ministering in Mozambique, Fr. Malachy Nwanalobi Oleru said, “It is frightening to note that the Church in Africa, seems to have been abandoned by the Western World to increased attacks by terrorists and bandits, most of which have Islamist undertones.”

The Nigerian-born Cleric added, “Nigeria, Kenya, Burkina Faso, Mali and more recently Mozambique, are dark examples of Christian helplessness in the face of unabated killings and its parallel conspiracy of silence from the Western Europe and North America who brought the Christian message to Africa.”

The Missionary of Africa Cleric who is ministering in Mozambique’s Archdiocese of Beira in the central region of the country explained, “When therefore, the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Action by the Churches Together Alliance (ACT) chose to break the silence on the killings of Christians and other ordinary citizens, one can 'breathe' again with hope that possibly, in Mozambique at least, 'the knee would be off the neck'!”

“While it is not clear if the motive in the violence in Mozambique is purely religious, political, economic or a mixture of these,” Fr. Malachy told ACI Africa August 9, “one cannot be in doubt that jihadism, power-drunk terrorism for Islamic expansionism, is the driving intent and purpose elsewhere, especially in Nigeria.”

As a way forward, the Cleric suggested that the Church in Africa pushes “for a nonviolent revolution and be a participant in the Reformation of Africa.”

“The Church needs to be in dialogue with the State, and not appear to be taking orders from the State. There should be a partnership. The experience of COVID-19 should be an eye-opener,” Fr. Malachy told ACI Africa.

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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
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