Terrorism in Northern Mozambique “must remain a global priority”: Catholic Bishop

Bishop António Juliasse Ferreira Sandramo of Pemba DIocese in Mozambique. Credit: Eduardo Jorge Madureira/7MARGENS

The Catholic Bishop of Pemba Diocese in Mozambique has called on the international community to take note of the atrocities in the Northern part of the country due to terrorism as a matter of “priority”.

In an interview with 7MARGENS that was published on September 11, Bishop António Juliasse Ferreira Sandramo underscored the need for the international community to support the people of God in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado Province.

“Mozambique must remain a global priority. There cannot be first-line victims and second-line victims,” Bishop Sandramo was quoted as saying, adding, “The Conflict of Cabo Delgado cannot be forgotten; it cannot be taken as a normal subject.”

The Mozambican Bishop whose Episcopal See covers Cabo Delgado further told 7MARGENS, “We cannot be indifferent to the misfortune of those who must walk 200 kilometers to try to be hosted by families in extremely precarious conditions.”

The Local Ordinary of Pemba Diocese who doubles as the Secretary General of the Episcopal Conference of Mozambique (CEM) regretted the fact that the war in Ukraine has led to “lack of support” from the World Food Program (WFP) for the needy people of God in his Episcopal See.


“Without the help of the international community, nothing can be done,” Bishop Sandramo said, and added, “As a result of the most recent attacks, there are 8,000 new displaced people added to the more than 850,000 existing displaced people in the north of Mozambique.”

He underlined “the need to re-count on the help of WFP in combating hunger”, as the humanitarian and development arm of the Catholic Church in the Southern African nation, Caritas Mozambique “alone cannot suppress it.”

Through the "Together for Cabo Delgado" solidarity campaign, Caritas in the Diocese of Pemba has managed to build houses for the internally displaced persons in the Mozambican Diocese.

Although food shortages are not the only challenges for the victims of terrorism in Mozambique’s Northern Provinces of Cabo Delgado, Niassa and Nampula, one “euro is enough for a meal,” Bishop Sandramo said in the interview that was published on September 11.

The 54-year-old Mozambican Catholic Bishop who is the CEM Liaison Bishop for Justice and Peace underscored the need to include “religious leaders and local leaders” in exploring ways to address the challenge of violence in the North of Mozambique.

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“The Government should take a more far-sighted approach and talk to Muslim and Catholic leaders,” the Catholic Bishop who started his Episcopal Ministry in February 2019 as Auxiliary Bishop of Maputo Archdiocese said.

“I was never called to a meeting,” he said, emphasizing the gap in seeking ways to deal with terrorism in Northern Mozambique.

The Catholic Church leader who has been at the helm of Pemba Diocese since May 2022 further said, “Rapid changes are needed in the way violence is dealt with. Extensive prevention work is needed, integrating living forces, including religious leaders and local leaders.”

Bishop Sandramo also highlighted the plight of “displaced children” and the vulnerability of young people as “potential targets of recruitment by jihadists.”

He said, “There is need to offer new horizons to young people, potential targets of recruitment by jihadists. It is essential to create jobs, to eliminate poverty, to provide opportunities.”.


“You have to keep people from getting lost,” the Mozambican Bishop said, and added, “Hope must be created. An exclusively military response can eliminate two, three or four jihadists, but it will not prevent new recruitment.”

According to Bishop Sandramo, terrorism in Northern Mozambique “has also forced many schools and health centres to be closed… schools prepared to receive 1,000 children now must receive 3,000... And a lot of kids don't even have the motivation to go to school. The younger ones find themselves deprived of a future.”

He called on those spearheading the World Youth Day (WYD) Lisbon 2023 to remember the plight of the victims of terrorism in Mozambique.

WYD 2023, he said, should pay attention to “young people who are being killed worldwide or who are victims of poverty and corruption.”

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.