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Mozambique – updates April 2022

From Atrocities Watch Monitor No. 3
April 2022. Read full newsletter here

Cabo Delgado remains the province most affected by Islamist insurgents. During the first week of March, al-Shabaab (AS) fighters killed at least 15 civilians in the villages of Mbuidi, Malamba, and Nangõmba.138 On 7 March in Nangade district, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Mozambican Defence and Security Forces (FDS) and local militia conducted a military operation killing more than 30 insurgents considered responsible for a wave of attacks during the last weeks of February, when Litingina was raided and six people were killed.139 It is estimated that 24,000 people have been displaced from Nangade between January and mid-March 2022 due to violence.140 Between 15 and 17 March approximately 20 insurgents disguised in military uniforms attacked Matemo island, looting food and burning homes. Security forces responded, leaving at least 17 dead across both sides, several government soldiers were decapitated. Days later, on social media the Islamic State published footage on the killings of soldiers.141

Islamist extremist groups continue to control parts of Cabo Delgado and operate the bordering provinces of Niassa and Nampula.142 Attacks have also been registered in Tanzania, where an attack on 20 March killed at least one person,143 Recent information suggests the group has recruited fighters from neighbouring Tanzania and South Africa.144

Al-Shabaab has made notorious advances in weaponry and skills since beginning activities in Mozambique. A recent investigation concluded that most of the insurgents’ weaponry comes from Mozambican military sources, possibly being sold by some soldiers in the Mozambican armed forces in 2018 and 2019, before AS became a major threat.145

The tropical cyclone Gombe hit the country during the first fortnight of March, exacerbating the already existent humanitarian crisis in the northern region. It affected at least 736,000 people, caused over 60 deaths, and injured over 100 people, mostly impacting the Nampula and Zambezia provinces. As the weeks went by the number of displaced people has decreased, with the number in accommodation centres having gone down by 50%.146

As of January 2022, it is estimated that 1.9 million people are experiencing acute food insecurity, mostly due to the ongoing conflict. 71% are in Cabo Delgado, Niassa, Nampula and Zambezia.147 The increase in food shortages led to the release of around 200 hostages who had been captured by insurgents. It was reported that on 23 March that 120 civilians arrived at a Mozambican- Rwandan military base after escaping insurgents. On 28 March, sources in Macomia town claimed that up to 80 women, children, and elderly people arrived in the town under similar circumstances. They appeared to be malnourished.148

Displacement in Cabo Delgado continues, over 14,000 people were newly displaced in February, 48% of them children. Most displacements are related to reported security incidents.149 UNHCR estimates 24,000 people were displaced within Nangade district of Cabo Delgado between January and mid-March due to attacks from non-state armed groups.150

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 killed151 and over 890,662 have been displaced,152 including 735,00 in Cabo Delgado.153

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138 Human Rights Watch, “Violence Increases in Northern Mozambique,” 17 March 2022, https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/03/17/violence-increases-northern-mozambique}ph 

139 Cabo Ligado, Cabo Ligado Weekly: 7-13 March, 15 March 2022, https://www.caboligado.com/reports/cabo-ligado-weekly-7-13-march-2022

140 UN News, “Mozambique: Thousands continue to flee violence in Cabo Delgado,” 22 March 2022, https://news.un.org/en/story/2022/03/1114412

141 Cabo Ligado, Cabo Ligado Weekly: 14-20 March, 22 March 2022, https://www.caboligado.com/reports/cabo-ligado-weekly-14-20-march-2022

142 DE, “Terror threat morphs in Mozambique,” 24 February 2022, https://www.dw.com/en/terror-threat- morphs-in-mozambique/a-60890741

143 Cabo Ligado, Cabo Ligado Weekly: 14-20 March, 22 March 2022, https://www.caboligado.com/reports/cabo-ligado-weekly-14-20-march-2022

144 DE, “Terror threat morphs in Mozambique,” 24 February 2022, https://www.dw.com/en/terror-threat- morphs-in-mozambique/a-60890741.

145 Daily Maverik, “Investigation into arms flows to al-Shabaab insurgents points to Mozambican military,” 15 March 2022, https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2022-03-15-investigation-into-arms-flows-to-al- shabaab-insurgents-points-to-mozambican-military/

146 OCHA, Mozambique: Tropical Cyclone Gombe Flash Update No.7, 29 March 2022, https://reliefweb.int/report/mozambique/mozambique-tropical-cyclone-gombe-flash-update-no7-29-march- 2022

147 FAO, Northern Mozambique | Response overview – January 2022, February 2022, https://www.fao.org/emergencies/resources/documents/resources-detail/en/c/1471125/

148 Cabo Ligado, Cabo Ligado Weekly: 21-27 March, 29 March 2022, https://www.caboligado.com/reports/cabo-ligado-weekly-21-27-march-2022

149 UNICEF, MOZAMBIQUE Humanitarian Situation Report No. 2, 24 March 2022, https://reliefweb.int/report/mozambique/unicef-mozambique-humanitarian-situation-report-no-2-february- 2022

150 Ibid.

151 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

152 UNHCR data portal, https://data2.unhcr.org/en/country/moz

153 UNHCR, “Northern Mozambique Situation,” January 2022.

 

 

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