In northern Mozambique, thousands of residents flee the Islamist threat (1/2)

Emídio Beúla is a journalist and researcher for Center for Democracy and Development (CDD), a civil society organization. He emphasizes that the increase in the number of displaced persons makes their surveillance very complex:

In the past, the inhabitants moved mainly within the districts: from one village to another or towards the capital. There were trips of 5 to 10 kilometers. After the series of attacks that affected administrative centers and several villages from the end of March, people moved on and two districts were abandoned: Quissanga and Mocimboa da Praia. In the town of Metuge, not far from Pemba, the government has improvised a camp with tents for 10,000 people. But there are only a small fraction of the displaced there. Others are with relatives in Pemba, in neighboring provinces or in Tanzania.

Many of the displaced are out of government control. Some, we do not know how many, survive in nature without anything: without a roof, without water, without food. These are people who are too old or who do not have financial travel. Similarly, when Mocimboa da Praia was attacked, the inhabitants took overcrowded boats to sail tens of kilometers by sea to Pemba and we do not know if they all reached their destination. Information is difficult to obtain and journalists have little access to infested areas.

This photo, published by the Mozambican cooperation medium Pinnacle News on Facebook on July 7 shows displaced people in Mueda, in Cabo Delgado. original Pinnacle News post, some did not manage to find shelter there and had to continue their journey to Montepuez.

What do we know about the uprising?

According to the researcher Eric Morier-Genoud, Professor of African History at Queen’s University in Belfast, the group active in northern Mozambique was first built “on a religious sect that has existed since 2007 at least”. “The change took place around 2016 when they abandoned their attempt to live outside society with their rules and proceeded to a jihad agenda, namely the armed attempt to change the state so that society as a whole would be governed by sharia [la loi islamique]”, explains Eric Morier-Genoud. The group thus committed its first major attack in October 2017 in Mocimboa da Praia.

They are currently between 500 and 1000 warriors, most of them Mozambicans. If the sect emerged before the development of gas projects and the emergence of the Montepuez ruby ​​mine, Eric Morier-Genoud confirms that the “economic and social changes of the 2010s have indeed created frustrations, especially with regard to the expectations of the fallout from these discoveries”.

In May 2018, a Photo warriors carrying the flag of the Islamic State had circulated in Mozambique. But it was not until June 2019 that ISIS first communicated. on an attack in the province. The Mozambican authorities had initially denied the organization’s presence before finally confirming June 23, 2020that the violence in Cabo Delgado, because “it was claimed by the Islamic State [révélaient] the existence of external aggression on the part of terrorists “.

The rebels are said to have equipped themselves by collecting weapons from the security forces and by stealing goods or food during attacks. “None of the rumors about their involvement in the trade in wood, precious stones or drugs have been proven,” Eric Morier-Genoud specifies.

The researcher believes that the group has “grown steadily” and initially moved from isolated night attacks to the occupation of administrative centers in recent months: “According to some information, they now even control some areas where they began to establish a display of administration.”

In this context, the refugees returning to their places of origin are difficult. But in the camps and in the host families, the humanitarian crisis is getting worse.

>> READ FROM JULY 30 AT OBSERVERS DE FRANCE 24: In Mozambique, the humanitarian drama of internally displaced people, victims of the Islamist uprising

Article written by Maëva chicken