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Mozambique – update June 2022

From Atrocities Watch Monitor N° 5, June 2022
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ACLED recorded an increase in violence in May after a calm in April with all violent incidents taking place in the Cabo Delgado province. Attacks by the Islamic State (IS) continued throughout the month.[1] May started with a surge in violent incidents concentrated mostly in Nangade, Mueda, and Macomia districts.  The scale of IS attacks has declined with many concentrated on searching for provisions, mainly food, suggesting a diminished organisational capacity to sustain an offensive. An insurgent attack in a village in Palma on 6 May, was quickly contained by the Mozambican and Rwandan forces. According to a statement from the Ministry of Defence, insurgents were driven out of Palma district at the beginning of February.[2] During the second week of May, insurgents continued to appear in search of food, hostages were released and security forces mobilised to take advantage of these weaknesses.[3] This led to a wave of surrenders.  IS claimed responsibility for three attacks during the third week of May. Security forces indicated over 100 insurgents surrendered in the districts of Nangade and Macomia.[4]

Between 27 April and 17 May 2022, over 7,800 IDPs returned to their areas of origin, mosty to Muidumbe, Palma, and Macomia districts, and around 70% of those displaced reported an intention to return.[5]

Information recently provided by Save the Children recorded a worrisome increase in child marriages in Cabo Delgado, between January and March 2022, the agency recorded 108 cases, compared to 65 cases between October and December 2021. Between January and March, the numbers increased, from 6 children in January, 32 in February and 70 in March.[6]

Health authorities declared a public emergency after a first case of polio was detected in Tete province on 18 May, marking the second case in southern Africa this year and the first in the country in the last 30 years.[7]

The parliament approved a new anti-terror law, which imposes up to 24 year prison sentences for those convicted of terrorism offences and up to eight years for anyone spreading false information about the country’s insurgency. Opposition parties fear it could be used to target the media.[8]

Context:

 In October 2017, attacks by a group known locally as “Al-Shabaab,” linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, but not to the Somali Al-Shabaab, began in Cabo Delgado. The group has perpetrated indiscriminate attacks against civilians, including beheadings, sexual and gender- based violence, sexual slavery, abductions, recruitment of child soldiers and destroying civilian infrastructure. Reportedly more than 3,100 people have been killed[9] and UNHCR lists over 891,216 persons of concern in the country,[10] including 735,000 in Cabo Delgado.[11]

International response:

UNHCR expressed concern over the increase in people in need of protection in the country, mostly due to violence combined with extreme weather events. 6,000 people have been recorded as newly displaced in 2022, after the resurgence of conflict in Cabo Delgado and Niassa provinces.[12]

 

[1] Cabo Ligado, Cabo Ligado Weekly: 23-29 May 2022, 31 May 2022, https://www.caboligado.com/reports/cabo-ligado-weekly-23-29-may-2022

[2] Cabo Ligado, Cabo Ligado Weekly: 25 April-8 May 2022, 10 May 2022, https://www.caboligado.com/reports/cabo-ligado-weekly-25-apri-8-may-2022

[3] Cabo Ligado, Cabo Ligado Weekly: 9-15 May 2022, 17 May 2022, https://www.caboligado.com/reports/cabo-ligado-weekly-9-15-may-2022

[4] Cabo Ligado, Cabo Ligado Weekly: 16-21 May 2022, 24 May 2022, https://www.caboligado.com/reports/cabo-ligado-weekly-16-22-may-2022

[5] FEWS Net, Mozambique Key Message Update: IDPs begin returning to their areas of origin, but needs remain high, May 2022, 1 June 2022, https://reliefweb.int/report/mozambique/mozambique-key-message-update-idps-begin-returning-their-areas-origin-needs-remain-high-may-2022

[6] Save the Children, Rates of child marriage double amongst thougsands of children displaced by conflict in Cabo Delgado, 17 May 2022, https://www.savethechildren.net/news/rates-child-marriage-double-amongst-thousands-children-displaced-conflict-cabo-delgado

[7] All Africa, “Mozambique: Public Health Emergency Declared Over Polio,” 19 May 2022, https://allafrica.com/stories/202205190708.html

[8] The Defense Post, “Mozambique Approves Tough Anti-Terror Bill,” 19 May 2022, https://www.thedefensepost.com/2022/05/19/mozambique-anti-terror-bill/

[9] Ramos Miguel, Andre Baptista, “Officials Say Insurgency in Northern Mozambique is Spreading,” Voice of America, 17 December 2021, https://www.voanews.com/a/officials-say-insurgency-in-northern- mozambique-is-spreading/6359526.html

[10] UNHCR data portal, https://data2.unhcr.org/en/country/moz

[11] UNHCR, “Northern Mozambique Situation,” January 2022.

[12] UNHCR, “UNHCR raises alarm over Mozambique’s “invisible” crisis as climate shocks worsen displacement,” 10 May 2022, https://www.unhcr.org/news/briefing/2022/5/627a6c404/unhcr-raises-alarm-mozambiques-invisible-crisis-climate-shocks-worsen-displacement.html

 

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