Church Fostering Fraternity between IDPs, Locals in Mozambique: Catholic Peace Entity

Some internally displaced persons at Paquitequete beach in Pemba Diocese. Credit: Courtesy Photo

The Catholic Church is promoting fraternity between Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and locals in Northern Mozambique, the leadership of the Dennis Hurley Peace Institute (DHPI) has said.

In an interview with ACI Africa, DHPI Director, Johan Viljoen, attributed the tensions at Corrane resettlement site to differences in the standard of living, with IDPs being “better off” considering the support the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other aid agencies avail to them.

“At the moment you have a situation where the displaced are better off than the local community, and these tensions are rising,” Mr. Viljoen told ACI Africa Monday, August 29.

The Director of the peace entity of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) explained, “The UNHCR and other non-profit organizations provide monthly food parcels for the IDPs and have built four room houses and football fields for the IDPs in Corrane resettlement, and just outside the site, the local community is starving and living in huts.”

It is against this backdrop that “the Church is in the forefront of actually promoting and implementing a spirit of solidarity and brotherhood among IDPs and locals to reduce tensions.”


He highlighted some of the initiatives aimed at fostering fraternity, saying, “The Church in Nampula, through Caritas, is assisting to foster better relations between locals and IDPs by having an even split on the building teams, which are currently working to provide housing for the displaced families in Corrane.”

“Presently there are 60 builders, and they are divided into ten teams made up of six builders, where three are locals and the other three are IDPs,” he further said about the construction initiative that is bringing together IDPs and members of the local community in a working relationship.

The DHPI Director added that Caritas in Mozambique’s Nampula Archdiocese has partnered with other organizations “to provide food parcels and shelter for the IDPs and to the local community who lost practically everything due to floods.”

“The Church is ensuring that there is an equal division of whatever aid comes in so that the most marginalized local families also benefit,” he said, adding that other aid agencies are looking into the issue of equal distribution of aid. 

Mr. Viljoen said the aid organizations “are already researching and having conferences to strategize about what can be done for the host community, but the Church is in the forefront of this and reducing the tensions.”

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He cited the challenge of bureaucratic processes that he said are hindering the organization from providing basic human needs to the IDPs and locals. 

“The Archdiocese of Nampula received a donation from Italy, a container load full of basic medicines. It has been sitting in the port in Nacla for two months, trying to get authorization to have it released. There are vibrant initiatives to provide life giving support which are all being hamstrung by bureaucracy,” he lamented.  

In the August 29 interview, Mr. Viljoen also expressed concern about the increasing numbers of IDPs in Nampula Archdiocese saying it has affected the accessibility of health services and schools. 

He said IDPs are increasing in Nampula because of renewed attacks in Ancuabe District of Cabo Delgado Province, “which was previously considered a safe area.”

Mr. Viljoen expressed hope that violence in Mozambique will come to an end saying, “As Christians we believe that there is always hope, and we believe that good will triumph over evil at the end of the day.”


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.