Catholic Aid Agency Reaches out to Mozambique’s Displaced, Bereaved amid Protracted Crisis

Families fleeing violence in the Cabo Delgado province in Mozambique.
Credit: Aid to the Church in Need (ACN International).

The leadership of the international Catholic pastoral charity and pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN International) is reaching out to the people of God in Mozambique’s Pemba Diocese who have been caught up in the protracted crisis of Cabo Delgado Province.

In a report shared with ACI Africa Saturday, November 14, ACN leadership announces the sending of “100,000 Euros in emergency aid to Mozambique.”

The aid includes blankets, clothing, food, and basic hygiene products for the displaced in Mozambique, as well as counseling for trauma victims following reports that militants linked to the Islamic State recently beheaded more than 50 people in the Northern part of the country.

“We want to help the Diocese of Pemba and the neighboring Dioceses with emergency aid for the victims of Cabo Delgado, on top of the projects we are already sponsoring within the Dioceses for their Priests and Religious,” ACN’s head of projects, Regina Lynch says in the report sent to ACI Africa November 14.

The ACN official further explains, “We have already set up a program for Diocesan teams to provide psychological support and counseling to the traumatized refugees in the parishes.”

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.

“The most recent massacres by the group calling itself ‘Islamic State in Central Africa’ (ISCA) are just now coming to light: last Sunday these alleged jihadists are reported by local sources to have attacked the small town of Muidumbe and beheaded and dismembered the bodies of dozens of people in a local football stadium,” ACN officials say in the report.

They add, “Reports have also come through of the massacre of over 15 children and young people, along with their adult ‘tutors’, who were preparing them to take part in the traditional initiation rites of the Makonde tribe.”

The United Nations has called on Mozambique to investigate the reports of massacres and the beheading of women and children in the region.

On November 9, the leadership of the National Community Radio Forum (FORCOM) in Mozambique expressed concerns about the welfare of a group of Catholic journalists engaged by São Francisco de Assis Community Radio in the Province of Cabo Delgado who have been hiding in bushes after insurgents raided their radio station.

Reflecting on the violence in the Cabo Delgado province, a nun serving in Mozambique’s Pemba Diocese, Sr. Blanca Nubia Zapata told ACN, “It seems as though they are trying to evict the entire population of the Northern part of Cabo Delgado province, expelling the ordinary people without the slightest vestige of compassion.”

“Over 12,000 people have arrived here in the past two weeks. We can’t keep up. Women and children are arriving, and older people who have been walking for days,” Sr Blanca says in the report shared with ACI Africa, adding that “some have died on the way, on the roads and the forest tracks.”

She further explains, “It’s 180 km (115 miles), but you can’t imagine what our ‘roads’ are like; it’s terribly difficult walking along these tracks, and across the countryside, three or four days on end without food, without water, carrying their children on their backs… There are women who have given birth on the road.”

Faced with these challenges, Sr. Blanca, a member of the Theresian Carmelites of Saint Joseph says, “We are doing all we can. Very often we can do no more than listen, ask how they are feeling and listen to them. They’ve left everything behind, hoping to escape with their lives.”

“All they want to do is to get away from there; they are simply terrified. Many of the families have asked for our help, and we have rescued the families of the children at the school, with immense difficulty, with private vehicles and the help of third parties”, Sr. Blanca explained.

In October, Bishop Luiz Fernando Lisboa of Mozambique’s Pemba Diocese appealed for aid  for thousands of displaced families saying they are experiencing “a deep humanitarian crisis.”

“We need support, we need help. We are truly in a deep humanitarian crisis and we need solidarity. 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,” Bishop Luiz Fernando Lisboa said October 27.

In order to better attend to the humanitarian crisis in Cabo Delgado, Bishop Lisboa expressed the need 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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