from ARMANDO DOMINGOS in Maputo, Mozambique
MAPUTO, (CAJ News) – EVACUATION flights from the Mozambican town of Palma have been halted because of insecurity and massive demand for the service.
The United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS), operated by the World Food Programme (WFP), has had to temporarily suspend the flights to Pemba.
The suspension comes amid scores still fleeing the coastal town despite the government forces regaining control some weeks after Islamists attacked Palma in the northern province of Cabo Delgado.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) reported that 14 576 people —44 per cent of whom are children—have arrived mainly in Nangade, Mueda, Montepuez and Pemba districts.
It cited statistics by the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM).
Some 436 older people and 181 unaccompanied children are among those who have been registered.
At least 70 percent of the new arrivals are staying with host families.
The UN is concerned about reports that at least 1 000 people fleeing from Palma who tried to enter Tanzania were not allowed to cross the border to seek asylum.
Reports collected by the Protection Cluster indicate that safe exit routes from Palma are almost non-existent, with road access to Tanzania further north or Nangade District in the west are deemed unsafe, forcing a difficult attempt through alternative routes in the countryside through the bush and forests.
There are reportedly thousands of people sheltering at the Quitunda settlement adjacent to Afungi, some 15 kilometres south of Palma, and thousands more reportedly on the move through the forest in search of safety.
– CAJ News