Catholic Charity Foundation Reports Fears in Mozambique amid Global Aid Shortage

A woman at an IDP camp in Cabo Delgado. Credit: DHPI

The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) has admitted that it may not be able to sustain the food needs of victims of the earthquake in Syria, a situation that the Denis Hurley Peace Institute (DHPI) says paints a grim picture for others relying on UN aid.

In a report shared with ACI Africa on Wednesday, March 1, DHPI Director, Johan Viljoen, says that the WFP announcement on February 27 had “raised fears in Mozambique” that many internally displaced people living in the country may starve.

“The war in Syria and the recent earthquake have placed the country at the top of the list of international concerns. If WFP is unable to raise the funds to provide humanitarian assistance in Syria, it will almost certainly not be able to do so in Mozambique,” Mr. Viljoen says.

The Director of the peace entity of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) told ACI Africa that already, people who have been displaced in Cabo Delgado and are now living in Nampula Province in Northern Mozambique have gone for months without receiving any food aid from WFP.

“The last food deliveries in Nampula were given in December. Nothing was given in January by the World Food Program. I went and spoke with the Director of Caritas Nampula himself. People in Nampula were told that there are no more funds. And in February, they waited and nothing was given,” Mr. Viljoen said in an interview with ACI Africa Thursday, March 2.


WFP said on February 27 that without an urgent injection of $450 million, it will not be able to maintain emergency food assistance this year in Syria, including to people impacted by the recent earthquake. 

“Without sufficient resources, we will have to do cuts,” said Ross Smith, WFP Deputy Country Director for Syria. 

“We will have to cut significantly the number of people we provide support to, and that’s going to come on top of an earthquake crisis and an economic crisis,” the WFP official said.

She told reporters in a video briefing from Damascus that the food agency projects they will have to cut 50-60 percent of the 5.5 million Syrians they assist monthly if they are not assured of the funds within the next two to three months. 

In November last year, 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.

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“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, Mr. 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.


DHPI again visited Nampula Province from February 14-21 and gathered the experiences of the IDPs who said that they had lost hope as aid dwindled, and were facing starvation.

“Most say that they now have no choice but to return (to Cabo Delgado). It might not be safe yet where they came from, but at least they would be able to plant crops and catch fish,” DHPI said in a February 24 report.

In Corrane Settmenet Camp in Nampula, the IDPs shared with the SACBC peace entity that the suspension of food aid to the settlement could be a strategy to force them to go back home.

In the March 2 interview with ACI Africa, Mr. Vijoen maintained the need to strengthen advocacy in Europe and America in support of WFP which, he said, is the only humanitarian agency capable of handling crises in countries facing starvation.

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.