from ARMANDO DOMINGOS in Maputo, Mozambique
MAPUTO, (CAJ News) – IN the midst of the large and likely long-lasting humanitarian situation developing in northeast Mozambique, have emerged marvellous stories of resilience, hope and selflessness.
These depict individuals and communities whose spirits cannot be broken by the devastating insurgency.
Such heroism in the Cabo Delgado province comes in the face of diversity compounded by outbreaks of disease including cholera and severe acute malnutrition.
Thousands of people, a majority of them women and children, have fled the northernmost town of Palma to Mueda, Nangade and Pemba to seek refuge.
While some parts of Palma now resemble ghost towns as whole communities flee attacks by Islamists, which peaked at the end of May, conversely, towns where the refugees have sought sanctuary have seen their populations balloon.
The towns’ populations have doubled and in some cases tripled.
Despite local communities ensuring poverty, they have opened their doors to the multitudes uprooted by the violence in Palma.
These host families are in the process of these acts of ubuntu (humanity) complementing cash-strapped humanitarian organisations, which are battling to deal with the influx of refugees.
Some poverty-stricken families, such as Berton Magaia’s in Pemba, have taken in the refugees.
The Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF or Doctors Without Borders) reports that an estimated 90 per cent of people that made it to Pemba are staying with relatives and friends.
Magaia, his wife and three children have welcomed a mother and his two young children to their humble home.
“It is in our custom that when a neighbour is facing a crisis, don’t turn them away as you never know what the future holds, tomorrow you might need their help when it is your turn to be visited by trouble,” he reasoned.
“It is indeed a challenge but whatever that we were eating as a family we have learnt to share with new members. We are not increasing the size of the pot. The portion remains the same, we share equitably.”
Local community leader, Stefan Guambe, lauded villagers for opening their doors to the refugees.
“Our people have played an exemplary role, particularly those that have adopted some children that have arrived with no parents,” the leader lauded.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) disclosed it had have identified more than 200 children who have been being separated from their parents.
These minors are among more than 19 000 people that have fled Palma since the end of March.
About 70 000 in total have been displaced from their homes since armed Islamists unleashed their reign of terror in Cabo Delgado in October 2017.
Manuel Fontaine, the UNICEF director of Emergency Programmes, recently visited Cabo Delgado where he was humbled by the prevailing solidarity and resilience.
“I think we always need to remember how inspiring the actions of people can be in this situation. It’s families of five or six people welcoming 20 or 30 people into their homes and trying to care for them,” the envoy stated.
“We know cases of the resilience of people who have actually walked and managed but also very interesting stories of people saying ‘we don’t want charity, what we want is you to help us get back on our feet. We want to start working again, we want to earn a living’,” Fontaine enthused.
– CAJ News