Mozambican Catholic Archdiocese “overwhelmed” by Increasing IDPs from Cabo Delgado

Archbishop Inácio Saúre of Nampula Archdiocese, President of the Episcopal Conference of Mozambique (CEM). Credit: Vatican Media

The increasing number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from the violence-stricken Cabo Delgado Province covered by Mozambique’s Pemba Diocese is overwhelming, the Catholic Archbishop of the country’s Nampula Archdiocese that is playing host to a section of the IDPs has said. 

In a Vatican News report, Archbishop Inácio Saúre said that amid limited economic resources, efforts to meet the needs of the IDPs are “like a small drop of water in the ocean”.

“It takes a lot of work to try to meet these new brothers and sisters, to help, to make them feel welcome; but it seems that all efforts are like a small drop of water in the ocean, because the needs are many and the economic resources are limited,” Archbishop Saúre has been quoted as saying in the June 9 report.

He cited language barrier as one of the challenges encountered in attending to the IDPs. He said, “At the pastoral level, for example, in the linguistic diversity of the displaced people who come from the Province of Cabo Delgado into other Provinces, we try to find ways to communicate with them in their respective languages.”

The Local Ordinary of Nampula Archdiocese who doubles as the President of the Episcopal Conference of Mozambique (CEM), said Catholic Bishops whose Episcopal Sees lie in the Northern part of the country meet regularly to discuss the challenges in Cabo Delgado and explore solutions for the good of the people of God affected by the crisis.


“Since this is a problem that involves the entire North Ecclesiastical Province, the Bishops in the region hold regular meetings to share information, ideas, projects and good practices of reception and integration,” The Mozambican member of the Institute of Consolata Missionaries (IMC) told Vatican News, adding that pastoral secretaries in the Catholic Dioceses have also had meetings aimed at finding a way forward.

He said that it is estimated that more than 3,000 people have lost their lives and more than 800,000 have been displaced in Mozambique as a result of the terrorist attacks, which began in October 2017.

Archbishop Saúre regretted the fact that some of the Catholic Parishes of Pemba Diocese have been closed because of the protracted crisis in the Southern African nation. He said, “One of the effects of the conflict in Cabo Delgado is the closure of Parishes; at least six of the seven Parishes are closed affecting pastoral activities.”

“However, those displaced by the war, are cared for pastorally by the Parishes in the areas where they are established and welcomed,” the Archbishop who has been at the helm of Nampula Archdiocese since June 2017 said.

He added, “In the Archdiocese of Nampula, for example, Parishes are being very welcoming and are trying to do everything to insert and integrate the displaced in the life of the community.”

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“The local community also meets with the displaced for sharing… there is a lot of accompaniments in this sense,” the native of Balama district of Gabo Delgado told Vatican News.

He said that the situation in Cabo Delgado remains fragile. He explained, “There is still no certainty of improving security in these places, in order to encourage the displaced to return.”

“War-displaced persons are not yet encouraged to return to their lands of origin, and it is expected that, in due course, the competent authorities will say whether there are conditions for them to return, before doing so safely,” the President of ECM said.

He appealed to members of the local churches and to the international community to support the search for solutions to the Cabo Delgado crisis so that the violent conflict is halted.

Sheila Pires is a veteran radio and television Mozambican journalist based in South Africa. She studied communications at the University of South Africa. She is passionate about writing on the works of the Church through Catholic journalism.