Aid Suspension in Mozambique Deliberate Strategy to Force out IDPs: Catholic Peace Entity

Some Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Cabo Delgado. Credit: Denis Hurley Peace Institute

The alleged suspension of food aid to the Corrane settlement for the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Mozambique’s Nampula province could be a strategy to force those who have been displaced by violence to go back home, the Catholic charity foundation, Denis Hurley Peace Institute (DHPI), has been told.

IDPs who spoke to the peace entity of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) said that they have lost, and have no option but to return to Cabo Delgado in northern Mozambique, which is still under militant attacks.

“Some weeks earlier, the responsible UN agencies announced that they had run out of money, and that food assistance would be halted to IDPs. IDPs that DHPI spoke to have lost hope. Most say that they now have no choice but to return. It might not be safe yet where they came from, but at least they would be able to plant crops and catch fish,” DHPI says in a February 24 report.

In Corrane, the IDPs fear death by starvation, the peace entity says, and adds, “There is a widespread belief amongst IDPs that the suspension of food aid is a deliberate strategy to force them to return.”

In November last year, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) described Cabo Delgado as “the most food insecure province in Mozambique”, expressing fear that the UN agency could be forced to suspend aid to the hungry owing to a shortage in funding.


“The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is today warning that it will be forced to suspend its life-saving assistance to one million people – at the peak of the hunger season in February – unless additional funding is urgently received,” the UN agency announced, and added, “Cabo Delgado is the most food insecure province in Mozambique and food security continues to deteriorate.”

In a February 3 interview with ACI Africa, DHPI Director, Johan Viljoen, said that stopping food distribution in Cabo Delgado may have “severe” implications among the IDPs who are already struggling.

“The humanitarian situation in Cabo Delgado is already dire. I was there towards the end of last year and the people had not received rainfall for a very long time. Up to now, they have not planted anything. They only rely on aid,” Mr. Viljoen said.

The DHPI Director said that for a long time, WFP had been the main source of aid to the IDPs who have been forced to live in camps by the Al-Shabaab.

“The people are fully dependent on WFP. Yes, we have Caritas Nampula, Caritas Pemba, and other Church and nongovernmental organizations that are trying their best to fill the gaps but these organizations combined do not have enough funds to sustain the IDPs who are about one million,” he said.

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Mr. Viljoen underlined the need “to strengthen advocacy in Europe and America” in support of WFP which, he said, “is the only humanitarian agency capable of handling the crisis in Cabo Delgado.”

DHPI visited Nampula Province in Northern Mozambique from February 14-21 and gathered the experiences of the IDPS who, according to the peace foundation, are embroiled in conflict with their host communities.

The situation of IDPs, DHPI says, should be seen against the background of political and economic developments, especially the interest of TotalEnergies, an international petroleum company in Cabo Delgado that closed shop following heightened militant attacks in the province.

DHPI recalls that the energy firm said that they would only return when the situation had been stabilized, and IDPs had returned. 

“There has been enormous pressure on IDPs to return, mainly from the authorities, eager for TOTAL to resume operations,” DHPI says, and adds, “In the week before the DHPI visit, the CEO of TOTAL (Patrick Pouyanne) visited Pemba and announced the imminent resumption of operations, subject to certain conditions.”


According to the peace foundation of SACBC, the imminent return of TotalEnergies and the company’s conditions for returning are also problematic. 

DHPI has gathered reports indicating that the energy firm is not only demanding a militarized buffer zone around the plant at Afungi but is also insisting on a buffer zone covering the entire coastal plain from Afungi to Pemba, which is more than 250 km. This, allegedly, is to safeguard shipping traffic between Palma and Pemba from attacks.

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.