Catholic Entity Welcomes UN Plan to Investigate Violations against Children in Mozambique

Credit: Johan Viljoen

The leadership of Denis Hurley Peace Institute (DHPI) has told ACI Africa that the entity is in support of the report about the United Nations (UN) plan to investigate “violations against children” in the conflict-ridden Northern region of Mozambique, Cabo Delgado.

In the Thursday, July 14 interview, the Director of the peace entity of the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference (SACBC) said, “We welcome the report about the UN’s investigation on violations against children in Cabo Delgado. These are causes of serious concern: rape, prostitution, murder and recruiting children as young as 11 and 12 years old as soldiers, that is of serious concern.”

Johan Viljoen added, “We are glad that the United Nations is investigating. However, it would be even better if the Mozambican government were to carry out daily investigations.”

Mr. Viljoen regretted the silence on the part of the Mozambican government in investigating violations against the rights of children, and posed rhetorically, “The government is doing nothing about it?”

In a July 11 annual report on Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC), the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, is quoted as saying that the international organization is set to start investigatin the war in Ukraine, and the violent conflicts in Ethiopia, Mozambique, and in Africa’s central Sahel region covering parts of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, with a focus on violations against children.


Presenting the report during the July 11 press conference, Special Representative of the Secretary General for CAAC, Virginia Gamba, said Mozambique was being added to the list of countries to be investigated because of “the severity and number of reported violations" in the conflict in Cabo Delgado, “including the recruitment and use of children in armed struggle, murders and mutilations, rapes and other forms of sexual violence, school attacks and abductions.”

In the interview with ACI Africa, the Director of DHPI said, “Despite the data released, Human Rights Watch and other advocacy organizations for children and young people have criticized the UN for not providing any meaningful information on violations against children in Ukraine, Ethiopia and Mozambique.”

“So, it's good to see that some progress has been made”, Mr. Viljoen added in reference to the reports that the UN intends to launch instigations against human rights abuses.

According to the July 11 CAAC report, the number of child abductions increased by more than 20% and cases of sexual violence against children continued to increase, also by more than 20%. 

In the July 14 interview with ACI Africa, the Director of the peace entity of the SACBC said that the percentages are derived from reported cases.

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Mr. Viljoen said, “These are only the cases that get reported. Am sure that if one is to go to the refugee’s resettlement camps, one will find that it’s a lot worse.”

He criticized the Mozambican government inaction in reporting and dealing with previous reports of sexual abuse of women and girls by community leaders in exchange for offers, saying, “Last year and the previous years, we heard of consisting  reports of women and teenage girls being forced to offer sex in exchange for food rations.”

“And at that time human rights watch had issued a statement – which we reported on – calling on the UN and on the Mozambican government to take action, and nothing was done”, the DHPI Director said.

“The acquiescence and the inaction of both the United Nations and the Mozambican government is a cause for concern”, he said, and added, “It’s wonderful that the UN is going to investigate, however, what comes to mind is, how many more months do we have to wait until the report is finalized and then finally action might or might not be taken?”

In a July 6 interview with ACI Africa, Mr. Viljoen warned of a dramatic increase of unreported cases of child sexual abuse and early marriages in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province.


He said, “More than 50,000 people have been displaced and 35,000 of them are children below the age of 18 who have no parents, who are unaccompanied … They are forced to have sex with adult men; they are being used for child prostitution.”

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.