CABO DELGADO, the northernmost province of
Mozambique, has been going through great turmoil ever since October
2017. In a series of more than 600 brutal attacks in nine separate
districts, armed insurgents,
who claim allegiance to the Islamic State, as well as in counter
attacks by the national security forces, it is estimated that more than
2,000 people have been killed, while over 310,000 others have been
forced to flee their homes.
The most recent massacres by the group
calling itself “Islamic State in Central Africa” (ISCA) are just now
coming to light: on Nov. 8, alleged jihadists are reported to have
attacked the small town
of Muidumbe, beheading and dismembering the bodies of dozens of people
in a local football stadium. Also reported is the massacre of more than
15 children and young people, along with their adult tutors, who were
preparing them to take part in the traditional
initiation rites of the Makonde tribe.
“It seems as though they are trying to evict
the entire population of the northern part of Cabo Delgado province,
expelling the ordinary people without the slightest vestige of
Blanca Nubia Zapata told Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). She was
speaking from Pemba, the capital of Cabo Delgado Province.
“More than 12,000 people have arrived here in
the past two weeks. We cannot keep up. Women and children are arriving,
and older people who have been walking for days. Some have died on the
the roads and the forest tracks.”
“It is 115 miles, but you can’t imagine what
our ‘roads’ are like; it’s terribly difficult walking along these
tracks, and across the countryside, three or four days on end without
food, without water,
carrying their children on their back. There are women who have given
birth on the road,” said Sister Blanca, a member of the Theresian
Carmelites of Saint Joseph.
In the last few weeks hundreds of small boats
have been arriving by sea. Whether in boats or canoes, the people are
desperate to escape the barbarous killings. “We are doing all we can.
we can do no more than listen, ask how they are feeling and listen to
them. They’ve left everything behind, hoping to escape with their
lives,” said the sister.
“All they want to do is to get away from
there; they are simply terrified. Many of the families have asked our
help, and we have rescued the families of the children at the school,
with immense difficulty,
with private vehicles and the help of third parties,” Sister Blanca
Around a week ago, in a video by Caritas
Mozambique that was sent to ACN, Bishop Luiz Fernández Lisboa, the
bishop of Pemba, describes the situation as seen from Paquitequete, a
suburb of Pemba, on
the coast: “Already there are around 12,000 refugees who have arrived
and they are continuing to arrive. Some are coming in the wake of the
attacks they have suffered, while others have fled in advance because
they are afraid.”
“When they arrive here, they have nowhere to
sleep; there are just blankets and makeshift shelters, and still there
is no place that has been designated for accommodating them. Some people
taken in by local families, whether because they have relatives here or
simply because people are moved by their situation and have taken
people into their homes.”
“It is an extremely difficult situation and
hundreds of people are simply sleeping here on the beach. Sadly, there
have been some people who have died on the journey, in some cases
because these people
spent two or three days in boats, at sea, and arrived sick and
“This is a desperate humanitarian situation,
for which we are asking, indeed begging the help and solidarity of the
international community,” Bishop Lisboa said.
“Following this appeal from the bishops, we
want to help the Diocese of Pemba and the neighboring dioceses with
emergency aid—for a total of $120,000 for the victims of Cabo Delgado,
on top of the
projects we are already sponsoring in the dioceses for its priests and
“In addition to this aid, for blankets,
clothing, food, basic hygiene products, and also seeds and
tools—whatever is needed—we want to help ease the worst of the suffering
and trauma. So, we have
already set up a program for diocesan teams to provide psychological
support and counseling to the traumatized refugees in the parishes,”
said Regina Lynch, head of the projects department at ACN International.
“It looks as though there is finally some
international attention being paid to this long-running and largely
forgotten tragedy over many long and painful months. Already back in
February, ACN published
an exclusive interview with Bishop Fernández Lisboa about the crisis
and the fear the people were suffering. They have burned down churches
and destroyed convents, and also abducted two Sisters.”
“Almost nobody has paid any attention to this
new focus of terror and jihadist violence in Africa, which is affecting
everybody, both Christians and Muslims alike. Let us hope that there
be a response to this crisis in northern Mozambique, for the sake of
the poorest and most abandoned,” said Ms. Lynch.
With picture of displaced people in Cabo Delgado (© ACN)
Directly under the Holy Father, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or
in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity - helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.
Founded in 1947 by
Father Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope John Paul II named “An
Outstanding Apostle of Charity,” the organization is now at work in over
throughout the world.
undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing
transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church
buildings, funding for priests
and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch
in 1979, 43 million Aid to the Church in Need
Child’s Bibles have been distributed worldwide.
For more information contact Michael Varenne at
email@example.com or call 718-609-0939
or fax 718-609-0938. Aid to the Church in Need, 725 Leonard Street, PO Box 220384, Brooklyn, NY 11222-0384.