Mozambique Insurgency Tramples Human Rights

Militant Islamists have taken to the rich province of Cabo Delgado in Mozambique to commit the next attack in a gruesome series – the decapitation and dismemberment of more than 50 people of the Nanjaba Village. The football pitch turn “execution ground” was the stage for “probably the worst carried out by the militants” since 2017, BBC reports. The terrorists are locally known as “al-Shabab.” The gun-men fired shots and lit homes ablaze throughout the village while chanting “Allahu Akbar,” translated to God is Greatest.  

Targeted acts of seizing land and terrorizing locals have increased in the remote villages of the northern region of Mozambique. Leaders of Mozambique have applied for international humanitarian aid to paralyze the insurgency. Talks of specialized training for troops is also a part of the conversation. Human rights groups are commenting on this plea for help as Mozambique leaders have also been accused of human rights abuses including torture and killings, making this issue all the more complex. 

“This is now a race against time because the longer it takes to organize a robust and effective regional response against these insurgents, the more difficult it is going to get,” said Martin Ewin, regional coordinator for Southern Africa at the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria, South Africa, “every day that passes is lost to the disaster, a bloody deepening disaster.” Further, United Nations spokesman, Gerald Bourke, for the World Food Program in South Africa stated, “the situation is grim. WFP has been supporting as many as possible but access is not easy, both from a security point of view and also because a lot of people have been on the move.”

“It is paramount that State authorities ensure the protection of civilians inside and outside the conflict-affected areas and that humanitarian agencies are guaranteed safe, unhindered access to deliver life-saving assistance and protection,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet. The precarious security situation facing Mozambique has shown disastrous consequences and will continue to rear its gruesome nature unless curbed. International help alone will not create stability; leaders of Mozambique must play their role in protecting their citizens and must hold accountable their own soldiers. 

In this majority-Mulsim province of the attack, at least 2,000 people have been killed and approximately 430,000 have been left homeless, according to the U.S. based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data group. Cabo Delgado is a province now seen as the foothold for the terrorist group. In 2019, the group pledged allegiance to ISIS. In April 2020, more than 50 young adults were murdered and dismembered for allegedly declining to join the group. The group uses poverty and unemployment as a tactic to recruit the young. 

Mozambique’s government initially ignored the seriousness of the rebellion by downplaying the militants as mere criminals. These opinions are slowly changing as the threat of violence increases. There are mounting concerns that if the conflict is not handled in a timely and delicate matter, the group could begin to target neighbouring regions such as Tanzania and even South Africa. The leaders of Mozambique must face their corruption head on and work to safeguard their nation before the death toll continues to skyrocket. International and local authorities must work in partnership to defeat the gruesome evil that infests the nation.