Thousands Displaced After Violent Attacks In Palma

The Mozambican Government has confirmed the deaths of dozens of civilians following the devastating Islamic terrorist attacks in Palma. Buildings destroyed, food supplies looted, and vehicles burned to ashes. Survivors of the massacre fled their homes, leaving behind a trail of despair. The organisation responsible for the attack is known as al-Shabab, notorious for ransacking and destroying numerous northern towns and villages in Cabo Delgado. The ongoing conflict has induced the displacement of over 700,000 people, the recent attack causing more than 3,300 Palman residents to flee.

The rising levels of poverty and unemployment in the gas-rich region are possible explanations for the recent attacks. Insurgence groups report feeling marginalized and discriminated against by their Government. The country has seen an increase in trafficking, drug disputes, and the radicalization of youth.

Residents fled to Nangade, Mueda, Montepues and Pemba. Many of those fleeing Palma separated from their families and loved ones. They survive days with no food or water, travelling by boat or through the bush.  The shelters prioritize feeding, clothing, and sheltering those displaced. However, the humanitarian bill is quickly rising, the World Food Programme estimating a further $10.5 million will be needed to provide basic care for the displaced.

Humanitarians warn the current situation is dire. The increasing numbers of internally displaced people are affecting neighbouring provinces. Director of the Southern African World Food Programme, Lola Castro, writes, “it’s a very serious situation. We’re talking about desperate people who haven’t been able to plan for three consecutive years, others recently displaced.” The increased violence in Cabo Delgado has severely impacted health services. Displaced pregnant women are unable to access facilities for safe deliveries and obstetric care. The UNFPA reports concerns over sexual and gender-based violence as a result of the displacement.

Citizens in the countries capital, Mozambique, have organised a drive to collect funds to support those affected by the attacks. The Mozambican Government focused on military aid. The United States has sent special force troops to train the Mozambican army; other countries have offered their support to fight the armed group. UN agencies are supporting the displaced, providing blankets, mattresses, and food rations.

In the meantime, the Government must find proactive ways to address the humanitarian crisis. The displacement of thousands of citizens has lasting, long-term implications for the nation. Efforts to re-build will need to account for humanitarian aid, job creation, local development, and locating/re-joining of families. Long-term success requires good governance, investing in communities, schools, and infrastructure. To prevent further militant attacks, the Government must improve civil affairs and ensure an improved quality of life for their people.