from ARMANDO DOMINGOS in Maputo, Mozambique
MAPUTO, (CAJ News) – THOUSANDS of civilians are reportedly hiding in the bush after fleeing terror perpetrated by Islamist Ansar al-Sunna in northern Mozambique.
The violence has escalated in the past two weeks in a region where at least 355 000 people have fled since 2017.
Because of the difficulty in safely accessing communities, the reports of people hiding in the bush have proved difficult to verify, the United Nations High Commissioner’s for Refugees (UNHCR) noted.
“The situation is desperate both for those trapped in conflict-affected areas, with barely any means of surviving, and for those displaced across the province and beyond,” said UN rights chief, Michelle Bachelet.
She said those who remained had been left deprived of basic necessities and were at risk of being killed, sexually abused, kidnapped or forcibly recruited by armed groups.
“Those that flee may die trying,” Bachelet said.
UNHCR lamented that many districts were inaccessible as they were occupied by non-state militia.
Civilians, including the elderly and those with disabilities, remain trapped in parts of Cabo Delgado, Nampula and Niassa provinces.
There are additional humanitarian concerns about Cabo Delgado as it is among the worst affected areas from coronavirus COVID-19.
UNHCR has appealed for $19,2 million (R297,7 million) to help meet displaced people’s basic requirements.
“People living in these areas whose rights have been violated are entitled to protection and remedy,” Bachelet said
According to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project more than 2 200 civilians have been killed since 2017.
– CAJ News