Five years after the attacks in Cabo Delgado, displaced people remain afraid – Africa


In Metuge, the traumas of those who fled the barbarism of the rebels who terrorized the Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado for five years are still fresh and, despite efforts to restore stability, fear prevails in that community.

“Now, the terrorist is everywhere”, laments to Lusa Abdul Arlindo, deputy head of the reception center in Metuge, one of the main places to receive displaced people.

A fear that persists, a perception that contrasts with the growing confidence of the authorities, who highlight that there have never been large-scale attacks like in Palma, in March 2021, and that highlight the external support that reinforced the troops.

The authorities consider the structure of the insurgency to be quelled and ask for “surveillance” for the rebel groups that remain, dispersed and on the run, attacking villages where they pass in the rest of the province – leaving marks, evident in Abdul’s laments.

On October 5th, five years have passed since the first attack against police units in Mocímboa da Praia.

It was the beginning of a conflict that would spread across the province and that in 2021 would end up suspending the gas projects on which the country largely depends to relaunch the economy.

Five years of cruelty are engraved on the faces and memories of thousands of displaced people in Metuge, a village on the edge of Pemba Bay, the provincial capital, which is on the opposite side, 10 kilometers away by boat or 40 kilometers around the sea, by road. .

Abdul Arlindo, 35 years old, is among the more than 30,000 people who sought refuge there due to armed incursions, in poverty, forced to live dependent on support.

“Our life boils down to waiting for support”, tells Lusa Bibiana Simão, 44, who says he never lost the desire to return to his region of origin, in the district of Quissanga, from which he fled in 2020. .

The authorities say that the populations of Palma and Mocímboa da Praia, the most important locations close to the gas projects, may return and that public services are being resumed.

However, and at the same time, the reconquest reorients the movement of the rebels: since June, attacks have intensified in the south of Cabo Delgado province, closer to Metuge, and in the neighboring province of Nampula.

“They have not yet entered Metuge’s headquarters directly,” but they are prime suspects in violent deaths in surrounding land over the past few months.

Fear spreads across lands where populations have their agricultural fields.

“We are tired of terrorists,” Ricardo Mendes, 43, another displaced person welcomed in Metuge, told Lusa.

“Life is getting better, but with difficulties”, he says, recognizing the work of the troops on the ground.

But with the record of new attacks, fears increased again, bringing to light the traumas of those who witnessed the crudest form of insurgency in northern Mozambique.

“It seems that they are getting closer and closer to here”, laments Ricardo Mendes.

The fear of new attacks and the hunger that affects most of the families sheltered in Metuge reinforce in many the desire to return home.

“In our community, we used to vary the food […]here we eat the same thing every day, rice and beans”, complains Graça João, another displaced person.

For more than a year, the United Nations has warned of a serious underfunding of its agencies in Cabo Delgado, being forced to ration food and other support, so that aid lasts longer.

The coastal district has been, along with Pemba, one of the most overburdened with displaced persons seeking safety during the five years of the insurgency.

There are about 800,000 internally displaced people due to the conflict, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and 4,000 deaths, according to the conflict registry project, ACLED.


Source: Correio da Manhã by www.cmjornal.pt.

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