Nearly one million people have been forced to flee their homes in conflict-hit northern Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province since extreme violence erupted there five years ago, the United Nations refugee agency said on Tuesday.
UNHCR said its latest figures showed 946,508 people were displaced by the first half of this year, pointing out that conflict has not subsided, and thousands of families are still being forced to leave their homes because of attacks by non-state armed groups.
The conflict erupted in October 2017, as a local militant group, al-Shabaab, launched an armed revolt against the state, immediately plunging the province into deep insecurity.
“People have witnessed their loved ones being killed, beheaded, and raped, and their houses and other infrastructure burned to the ground. Men and boys have also been forcibly enrolled in armed groups. Livelihoods have been lost, and education stalled while access to necessities such as food and healthcare has been hampered. Many people have been re-traumatized after being forced to move multiple times to save their lives,” the agency said.
UNHCR also noted that conflict has now spilled into the neighbouring province of Nampula, which witnessed four attacks by armed groups in September affecting at least 47,000 people and displacing 12,000.
The displaced persons face a myriad of challenges, as they struggle with lack of adequate food to sustain themselves and their families, lack of shelter as well as health challenges.
The agency appealed for funding to meet its humanitarian obligations to the affected people in order to avoid further suffering.
“As of September 2022, the US $36.7 million needed for UNHCR to deliver life-saving protection services and assistance in Mozambique was only 60 per cent funded,” it said.