“We are truly in a deep humanitarian crisis”: Bishop in Mozambique over Cabo Delgado

Some internally displaced persons at Paquitequete beach in Pemba Diocese.
Credit: Public Domain

The people of God in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado Province are experiencing “a deep humanitarian crisis,” the Bishop of Pemba Diocese, which covers the Northernmost Province of the Southern African nation said earlier this week, appealing for aid for thousands of displaced families.

“We need support, we need help. We are truly in a deep humanitarian crisis and we need solidarity,” Bishop Luiz Fernando Lisboa said Tuesday, October 27, adding that the situation is overwhelming and in need of immediate action.

Bishop Lisboa further said, “There are a lot of people to be cared for and they need everything, but right now we are taking care of the most basic needs, which is food and a place to stay.” 

The Bishop was speaking after a visit to Paquitequete beach, one of Pemba’s most populous areas, where those fleeing the violence in the region have been arriving in small boats.

“We have about 170 boats and maybe today they can reach 200 boats. About 10 thousand people have already arrived here. And others are arriving here. Some because of the attacks they have suffered, some leave their places because they are afraid. It is a widespread situation of great fear,” he explained.

He continued, “The displaced people who have arrived in the last five days arrive in very difficult situations. Most of them arrive dehydrated, some are sick. We had a lady who gave birth inside one of the boats.” 

The Bishop who was in the company of volunteers including a team from Caritas Pemba were there to welcome and offer help to the displaced persons.

“Many people have no documents, they arrive with almost nothing,” the member of the Congregation of the Passion of Jesus Christ (Passionists – CP) said and explained, “Those who can and those who fled before the insurgents arrived, gathered what they had. But a good part of them arrive with nothing, because they left in a hurry without being able to gather their few belongings.” 

The violent insurgency that has been going on in Mozambique’s Province of Cabo Delgado since 2017 has negatively affected the lives of over 600,000 people, with more than 200,000 displaced across the region, according to UN Reliefweb.

In recent weeks, at least 7,402 displaced people arrived on 127 boats into Paquitequete beach, the UN’s International Organisation for Migration (IOM) reported.

In his October 27 message when he visited the displaced persons, Bishop Lisboa highlighted the conditions under which they live saying, “They are sleeping under makeshift tents because a place for them to settle has not yet been seen.”

“Families that are moved end up taking people to their homes and others are taken by relatives. Others the Government is seeing what it will do with them,” the Brazilian-born Prelate said.

He added, “It is a very difficult situation as there are still hundreds of them who sleep here on the beach. They've been getting snacks, hot tea, but not real, solid food.”

Faced with these challenges, Bishop said, “The Diocese of Pemba is training Priests, Sisters and lay pastoral workers in trauma counselling, so that they will be able to visit families and IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) centres to provide care.”

“This team has not yet come to these beach people, because it is not yet time to give this support to them,” he said.

He explained that the trauma counsellors have to “open their files; they have to be welcomed; they have to be fed; and then they have to start this work.”

“This work is not done immediately when you arrive; there are other things that have to be done before that. But the team is ready to give that support afterwards,” Bishop Lisboa said, referencing the counsellors. 

He also acknowledged the assistance toward the IDPs saying, “A lot of aid has come from outside Pemba, from outside the province and even from outside the country, small but added to others that we are getting, we are able to respond to this situation.” 

He expressed his appreciation to individuals, organizations and groups that have been helping the displaced families in Cabo Delgado.

“The people of Cabo Delgado, in the first place, are to be congratulated for the welcome they have given, for their solidarity,” he said and thanked “all the people who have been concerned about our situation.” 

In order to better attend to the humanitarian crisis in Cabo Delgado, Bishop Lisboa appealed for more assistance saying, “I want to invite people of good will, groups, friends of Pemba, business people, to get in touch with us.”


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