“The Catholic Church is not only reaching to the people through various aid programs but is also the most credible source of information in the region that has been cut from the outside world,” he says.
There is especially a crackdown on journalists in the areas of extreme violence in the country, the DHPI Director tells ACI Africa, adding that civilians found interacting with journalists from within the camps are apprehended.
Asked about reported beheading of children in the Southern African nation, the Catholic Church official said that there was no “photographic evidence” of atrocities bordering beheading, which he said is associated with the Islamic jihad.
He faulted western media for framing the ongoing crisis in Mozambique as motivated by religious differences and a move to establish an Islamic State in the country’s Northern region.
Johan said that last year’s reports of beheading of more than 50 people at a football pitch in Mozambique were not true, adding that a Priest at a Church that was vandalized in the village verified the attack, which he witnessed.
(Story continues below)
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“When we went to Mozambique last year on the solidarity visit, we talked at length with a Priest whose mission had been burned down in Muidumbe (a District in Cabo Delgado, Pemba Diocese). He told us that though many people were killed that day, none of them was by beheading,” Johan recalled during the March 18 interview with ACI Africa.
He added, “The western media is demonizing Islam to try and advance their interest in Northern Mozambique when they clearly have their own economic interests in the region that has been found to have natural gas and oil.”
He reported increased U.S. military activity in Cabo Delgado that has seen an increase in the number of troops, military and training.
The situation, he says, has led to a “dramatic escalation of the crisis in the country.”
“Local people were hoping that the African Union, the Southern African Development Community (SADEC) and other regional bodies would come in and help resolve the conflict. But with the U.S. involvement, the conflict has taken a very complicated international dimension,” Johan told ACI Africa.
Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.