The United Nations is appealing for $254 million to provide life-saving assistance for 1.1 million people caught in a devastating cycle of violence and abuse in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province.
U.N. agencies report a sharp escalation in the number of people fleeing the chaos in Cabo Delgado. Increasing attacks and fighting by non-state armed groups, they say, have displaced nearly 530,000 people in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado, Nampula, Zambezia and Niassa provinces. This is nearly five times the number registered in March.
The U.N. refugee agency calls this volatile, unstable region a protection crisis. It says more than 2,000 people have been killed since the conflict started in 2017, and notes many of the more than half a million civilians on the run have been forced to move multiple times.
“In the violence, houses have been looted and burned, families separated and health centers and schools seriously damaged,” said UNHCR spokesman Babar Baloch. “Access to agricultural land has been blocked and other economic activities curtailed. There is a serious indication that this crisis could spread beyond the country’s borders if it goes unstopped.”
The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs confirms that people fleeing violence in Cabo Delgado are exposed to severe violations and abuses. While women and girls are at higher risk of abduction, gender-based violence and exploitation, the U.N. office says boys are at risk of being killed or recruited by armed groups.
OCHA spokesman Jens Laerke says essential services are overstretched, severely affecting the ability to help the growing number of victims of conflict and displacement.
“More than 90% of the displaced people are living with relatives or friends, whose already scarce resources are being further strained,” he said. “Communities hosting the displaced people also need international support. Many areas hosting the displaced people will flood in the upcoming rainy season, we fear.”
Aid agencies urgently need more funding, Laerke says, adding that people in Mozambique will have difficulty surviving without access to much-needed relief.