Hundreds of thousands of people are being forced to leave their homes by violence in northern Mozambique, in a situation made worse by extreme weather events and the aftereffects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Armed groups have been leading a campaign that includes torching villages, beheading people – including children – and kidnapping, forcing almost 820,0001 people to flee their homes in fear.
49-year-old Ibraimo, his pregnant wife and two small children escaped but had to live in the bush for months, surviving on wild fruit and fish. Because of the trauma, his wife went into labour while they were there, but as soon as she had recovered the family had to continue on foot for many miles to escape the armed groups. Ibraimo lost contact with his pregnant sister, who was also caught up in the fight, and he doesn’t know if she is dead or alive.
As well as coping with ongoing violence, which started in the Cabo Delgado area in 2017, people like Ibraimo are dealing with increasingly frequent extreme weather events, such as floods, cyclones and droughts. And those who have been displaced are particularly vulnerable to small-scale but frequent storms: they often start with inadequate shelter and sanitation and there’s no time to recover and rebuild before the next storm hits.
Edgar Joné, Tearfund’s Country Director for Mozambique, says ‘The problems are piling up and up and people simply can’t cope. The Covid-19 pandemic raised food prices and caused job losses; the weather is unpredictable and disrupts the normal growing seasons; and the violence brings the extreme distress of leaving home in rushed and fearful circumstances. It’s no wonder nearly 2 million people in Mozambique are now officially facing severe food insecurity, and that trauma is rife.’
In his home village, Ibraimo used to fish for an income, make bamboo fish traps and farm some crops, but now he cannot get work and there are sometimes tensions with the local community who are hosting people like him. He says he is very grateful for the house he has been loaned, and for the food and other items he has received from both Tearfund and the government. But he adds: ‘I would like to have my own house, because l cannot be a guest to someone forever, and be able to produce food for my own family.’
Tearfund is launching an appeal for funds for its work with its local partner, the Anglican Diocese of Nampula, helping those displaced and living in host villages or camps. Together they are providing trauma counselling, emergency food and hygiene kits, and practical items such as tents, blankets and mosquito nets. And to help people feed their families, they are giving seeds, farming tools and agricultural training.
Ruth Tormey, Tearfund’s Head of Church and Supporter Engagement, said: ‘At Tearfund we know many Mozambicans are surviving by the slenderest of margins, and we’re determined to help them overcome the tough times they’re going through. It’s testament to the resilience of Ibraimo and others like him that he said: “I do not know much about tomorrow but I am happy, still alive and healthy and when the war ends we will meet again telling a different story.”’
To learn more about Tearfund’s appeal for funds for its work in Mozambique, please visit www.tearfund.org/mozambiqueconflict
For further information or interview requests call Louise Thomas on 07590 775847 or for out of hours media enquiries please call 07929 339813.
Ibraimo [with his wife and children] outside the house he has been loaned after the family were forced by armed groups to flee their home in Mozambique. Credit: Ricardo Franco/Tearfund.
Photos may be downloaded from https://tearfund.resourcespace.com/?c=22193&k=9726142b3f Using password: sUmaA9pR3ssrel1!
Notes to editors:
- Scale of problem: An estimated 820,000 people in Mozambique have been internally displaced, made homeless by conflict, according to ReliefWeb.
- Main cause: Conflict started in 2017 in Cabo Delgado province, and escalated in 2020. Armed groups have led a campaign of violence that includes torching villages, beheading people – including children – and kidnapping.
- Extreme weather events including floods, cyclones and droughts occur regularly, with their frequency and intensity increasing because of climate change. [ECHO factsheet June 2021]
- According to the Global Climate Risk Index, Mozambique ranked fifth worldwide as one of the countries most affected by extreme weather events in the last 20 years.
- Cyclones and flooding are adding to the problems:
Tropical Cyclone Gombe hit the Cabo Delgado region in March 2022, displacing over 23,000 people.
It was preceded by Tropical storm Ana in Feb 2022, which caused extensive flooding. [Cyclone Idai made landfall further south in 2019].
The population remains highly vulnerable to small-scale but frequent storms; they don’t have time to recover and rebuild before the next one hits.
- Drought - the centre and south of the country are most prone to drought, but in the north rainfall is highly seasonal and alternates with drought periods.
- Covid-19 - By Feb 2022, 9 million, or only 29% of the population, were fully vaccinated. The pandemic caused raised food prices, job losses and difficulties in getting goods to markets.
- Hunger as a result of the above factors - see below
- About 80% of the displaced people are staying with family or friends in host communities, putting extra strain on the hosts’ already meagre resources.
- In Mozambique as a whole, nearly 2 million people are currently facing severe food insecurity due to the security situation, the drought, and the socio-economic impact of COVID-19.
- The increase in food insecurity since 2020 is attributed to several factors, including the security situation and armed conflict, drought and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. [ECHO factsheet June 21]
- Many displaced people would love to grow their own food but have been dislocated from their land and income sources.
- It is estimated that 900,000 people in Cabo Delgado and the neighbouring provinces of Nampula and Niassa are facing severe hunger and are in urgent need of food aid [ReliefWeb]. Tearfund is providing food to supplement government aid.
- 79% of the displaced people are women and children. Vulnerable groups include pregnant women, unaccompanied children, elderly people and those with disabilities.
- Many have witnessed violent attacks or don’t know the whereabouts of family members. Tearfund is providing trauma counselling.
- While most displaced people are living in host communities, some are in camps, where water, sanitation and hygiene conditions are poor, opening the way for cholera outbreaks. Tearfund is providing hygiene and sanitation kits.
Tearfund’s work in Mozambique
Tearfund is appealing for funds for its work in Mozambique. Money raised will be used in Mozambique and may provide: emergency food packages containing rice, beans, oil and flour; seeds, agricultural training, and farming tools; hygiene kits including soap, face masks and reusable sanitary pads; trauma counselling sessions.
Tearfund has been working in Mozambique since 1989 through local partners and national church networks. As well as responding to emergency situations such as the current displacement of people from the Cabo Delgado area, Tearfund works with other local partners in the country, using a process known as church and community transformation (CCT). This involves working with local churches as they empower their communities to escape poverty. Focus areas include peacebuilding and conflict resolution, and enabling churches to promote new and more sustainable ways for people to earn a living within their communities.
Tearfund is a Christian charity that partners with churches in more than 50 of the world’s poorest countries. We tackle poverty through sustainable development, responding to disasters and challenging injustice. We believe an end to extreme poverty is possible. Tearfund is also a member of the Disasters Emergency Committee. For more information about the work of Tearfund, please visit www.tearfund.org.