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Catholic Peace Entity Raises Alarm Over New IDP Influx in Mozambican City

Newly arrived IDP’s at Rapale in Nampula, Mozambique. Credit: Denis Hurley Peace Institute

The leadership of the Catholic peace and charity foundation, Denis Hurley Peace Institute (DHPI), is concerned that more Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are arriving in Nampula, a city in Northeastern Mozambique amid reports that peace is returning in the embattled Cabo Delgado Province in the North.

DHPI Director, Johan Viljoen says that space at Corrane, one of the IDP shelters established by the Catholic Archdiocese of Nampula with the help of the peace entity is already running out and that newcomers at the facility are not being provided the assistance they need to settle.

“With the IDP camp at Corrane rapidly running out of space, 250 newly arrived internally displaced families, arriving in Nampula have been provided with a place to settle at Rapale, approximately 40 km from Nampula City,” Mr. Viljoen says, adding that most of those arriving at the facility are women and children.

In a report shared with ACI Africa on Friday, October 22, the DHPI Director says that the IDPs are undergoing immense suffering including the lack of food and shelter and are forced to eat grass from the nearby forest.

He says, in reference to the IDPs, “They are not being provided with any assistance, and must go to a nearby forest to get bamboo, grass and stakes to build their own shelters. They currently also do not have food.”

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Mr. Viljoen found it baffling that the number of new arrivals in Nampula is on the rise despite authorities announcing that it is safe to return to Cabo Delgado.

“This renewed influx casts doubt on claims by Rwandan and Mozambican authorities that it is now safe to return to the Northern parts of Cabo Delgado,” he says in the report that is accompanied with photos of newly arrived IDPs at Rapale.

Mr. Viljoen told ACI Africa in May that over 60,000 displaced persons from Cabo Delgado in Northern Mozambique were living in Nampula Province where the lack of housing and food was critical.

At the time, the peace entity of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) had embarked on the construction of houses at Corrane, a project that the Archdiocese of Nampula initiated with the support of CEDES (Comisão Ecuménica para o Desenvolvimento Social) and other NGOs.

Mr. Viljoen told ACI Africa that a total of 3,170 people were set to benefit from the housing project including those who had fled from the March attack in Palma, a town under the jurisdiction of the Catholic Diocese of Pemba in the country’s North.

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Meanwhile, DHPI leadership has reported the fears in Tanzania that the growing Mozambican insurgency, which is in its fifth year, could spill over to the Eastern Africa country.

In the October 22 report, the leadership of DHPI noted that Tanzania, which had for years remained silent on the Mozambican crisis, is now seeking support from the West to counter terrorism threats.

“The Tanzanian Army fears that terrorist activity in Mozambique could spread to its territory. It is now turning to new Western partners for help because Beijing, its main ally and military supplier, has not made counter-terrorism a priority,” DHPI officials say.

In an earlier report, DHPI shared images of militants who were freely crossing the border from the North of Mozambique to Southern parts of Tanzania and noted that the images had left many wondering why the East African country had chosen to remain silent concerning the insurgency across the border.

The leadership of DHPI was baffled that Tanzanian authorities and security forces had been refusing entry to civilian refugees who were fleeing the fighting in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado region in the North while insurgents were crossing the border “with impunity.”

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“There is mounting speculation among civilians in Cabo Delgado that either Tanzania is failing to act or the country’s authorities are supporting the ongoing insurgency in her neighbor, Mozambique,” Mr. Viljoen told ACI Africa in an interview May 12.

In the October 22 report, however, DHPI leadership makes reference to media reports that have hinted on the move by Tanzanian authorities to join the military offensive against insurgents in Cabo Delgado, saying, “On 20 October 2021 Africa Intelligence reported that Tanzania's top brass has in recent months been scrambling to establish new contacts with Western military and diplomatic representatives in Dar es Salaam.”

The DHPI officials note that unlike Tanzania’s former President John Magufuli who they say hardly addressed the security situation in the neighboring country, the current president is serious about the situation.

“President Samia Suluhu Hassan is taking very seriously the jihadist threat just across her Southern border in Mozambique’s gas-rich Cabo Delgado Province. She instructed Tanzania People's Defense Forces’ (TPDF) Chief of Staff Venance Mabeyo, with whom she enjoys excellent relations, to prepare his Army to deal with the threat if it spills over the border,” the officials id the SACBC entity say. 

They add, “Samia Suluhu Hassan’s predecessor, the late John Magufuli, had long refused to take calls from his Mozambican counterpart Filipe Nyusi, who was hoping for military cooperation on the Mozambican-Tanzanian border. But that era is over and Mabeyo deployed a contingent to Cabo Delgado in August as part of the SADC Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM).”

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The SACBC peace entity has also reported the widespread sale of heroin in Cabo Delgado by insurgents whose intention, the leadership of the Catholic foundation says, is to supply narcotics in the region.

“In Cabo Delgado, SAMIM forces and local police have found a stash of 28 kilograms of heroin in a building that was used by insurgents, further adding to speculation that part of the insurgent’s objectives is to supply narcotics in the region,” DHPI officials say in the report shared with ACI Africa.

They add, “The drugs were part of a 250 cache that was destroyed over the weekend in Pemba.”