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Exploitation of Natural Resources Behind Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado Crisis: Bishop

Bishop Luiz Fernando Lisboa.

Exploitation of natural resources is the cause of the crisis in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado Province within the Catholic Diocese of Pemba, the Local Ordinary, Bishop Luiz Fernando Lisboa has said.

In a Wednesday, December 16 report, Bishop Lisboa calls on Portugal to table a debate in the European Union (EU) to discuss the exploitation of natural resources. 

“The conflicts in the Cabo Delgado region have their origins in the costs of exploiting natural resources,” Bishop Lisboa has been quoted as saying during a webinar promoted by Catholic Church organizations in Portugal.

Making reference to the three-year violence in Cabo Delgado Province, the Bishop adds, “Economic motivations are, in the very first place, at the origin of the conflicts. Religious extremism is also an important element, but not the main one, since wars have taken place where there are many natural resources.”

Addressing about 250 participants in the conference, Bishop Lisboa called on Portugal, which will assume the EU Council Presidency in January 2021, to spearhead the discussion about the worldwide exploitation of natural resources. 

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“Portugal would do a great favor if it brought the use of resources, throughout the world, to debate in the European Union: how are we dealing with the situation? What kind of submission, again colonialism, are we practicing in relation to resources in Africa and other poorer places in the world,” the Local Ordinary of Pemba poses.  

He continues, “This discussion has to be done seriously.” 

Acknowledging that the “European Union can do a lot in terms of humanitarian aid,” the Brazillian-born Bishop says there is need to “go to the root of the problem.”

“We are dealing with the humanitarian crisis, but this war must end,” Bishop Lisboa appeals. 

Violent insurgency that has been going on in Mozambique’s Northernmost Province 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. 

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According to UN Reliefweb, the violence has negatively affected the lives of at least 600,000 people, with more than 200,000 displaced.

In the report published by Agenzia Ecclesia, Bishop Lisboa says that the violence has worsened the challenge of hunger in the region. 

“Hunger, which was happening every year at this time, increases much more because of the war,” he says.

The violence in the region is worsening because “Cabo Delgado was ignored, he was left out for a long time,” Bishop Lisboa says, adding, “That is one of the reasons that helped this youth to be dragged into these rebel groups.”

He goes on to note that Mozambique’s defense forces “with all the goodwill and all the staff that the Government may have increased, were unable to contain and the war continues.”

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“To resolve the situation, the Government should do what it should have done a long time ago: asking for help,” says the Local Ordinary of Pemba.