Advertisement

Food, Healthcare Urgent Needs for Displaced Persons in Mozambique: Catholic Bishop

Bishop Antonio Juliasse, apostolic administrator of the diocese of Pemba. Credit: ACN

Displaced persons in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado Province covered by the Catholic Diocese of Pemba are in urgent need of food and health care, the Apostolic Administrator of the Mozambican Diocese has said.   

According to a report by the World Food Programme (WFP), at least 700,000 people have been displaced in Mozambique’s Northernmost Province since violence broke out in 2017. 

“There has been a lack of basic medicines everywhere. Food and healthcare continue to be an urgent need for this great number of refugees,” Bishop António Juliasse has been quoted as saying in a September 21 report.

Bishop Juliasse adds, “As far as food aid is concerned, the people eat one day, and the next day they need food again, and so it continues. It’s not something you can give once only; it has to be ongoing, until the families are able to support themselves.”

“It is also urgent to provide these people with COVID-19 vaccines, since there are so many of them, and when there are distributions in the refugee camps, the people naturally crowd together in order to be able to hear their names called and get hold of the aid on offer,” the Mozambican Catholic Bishop further says.

Advertisement

In the report by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) International, Bishop Juliasse says the Catholic Diocese of Pemba is working to ensure the displaced persons are equipped with farming materials ahead of the planting season.

“The sowing time will start soon, with the rains, especially the maize, yucca, and the other staple food crops. We have to make sure that the families have the necessary means, and this involves having a mattock, an axe, everything they need to work the fields. But at the same time, we also have to make sure they have enough land to grow their crops on,” he says.

Besides food and health care, the Bishop who has been at the helm of Pemba Diocese since February says the people of God in Cabo Delgado are in need of spiritual and psychological support. 

“The other priority for us as a Church is their spiritual support. The psychological support is already ongoing, but we now also have to focus on spiritual support," he says. 

Spiritual support, the Bishop explains, is "a priority for the Church and requires a pastoral outreach involving the integration of the refugees in the Christian and religious life of the places where they find themselves.”

More in Africa

“There are tensions between the local people and those who have welcomed the refugees," he further notes, and explains, "This is also one of the aspects where the Church has a role to play, starting with the local Christian leaders and influencing the local leaders to promote a climate of friendly coexistence between the refugees and those who were already living in the area.”

In a situation update during a virtual event Hosted by the Catholic Parliamentary Liaison Office and Denis Hurley Peace Institute (DHPI) in July, the Director of Mozambican Episcopal Conference Commission for Migrants, Refugees and Displaced Persons (CEMIRDE), Sr. Marines Biasibetti, said that that approximately 900,000 people have been displaced within Cabo Delgado and in the surrounding Provinces such as Niassa, Zambézia and Nampula.

It was noted, during the July 27 virtual event, that 50 percent of the displaced people were children.

“Every day there are new attacks with localized outbreaks, forcing people to abandon everything to seek refuge elsewhere,” Sr. Marines said and added that the most affected districts are Palma, Mocímboa da Praia, Quissanga, Macomia and Muedumbe, among others.

The Catholic Nun said that about 20,000 IDPs have found refuge in the Catholic Diocese of Nacala within the Province of Nampula.

Advertisement

In a September 20 news report, Bishop Juliasse said conditions in Cabo Delgado are not yet conducive for Missionaries who left their missions due to the violence.

“The issue of security is still precarious. The first thing we really have to ensure is that the people can return safely and resume their lives in safety… But I think we still need time," the 53-year-old Mozambican Bishop said.