from ARMANDO DOMINGOS in Maputo, Mozambique
MAPUTO, (CAJ News) – TANZANIA has reportedly pushed back 1 500 Mozambicans fleeing deadly terror attacks in their country this month.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) lamented the development.
A spokesperson said “several thousand” Mozambicans had been pushed back from Tanzania into northern Mozambique since last year.
People are quoted as telling UNHCR they trekked for days to the Rovuma River, crossing it by boat to reach Tanzania, from where they were returned by the authorities.
Many are women and young children.
“UNHCR is alarmed at reports that Mozambicans have been refouled, forcibly returned, and prevented from seeking asylum,” said UNHCR spokesperson, Boris Cheshirkov.
“We call on all parties to allow free movement of civilians fleeing violence and conflict, in search of international protection, safety and assistance, including to respect and fully uphold the right to cross international borders to seek asylum.”
Hundreds of locals have settled in the border point if Negomano.
Those that have reached Tanzania have reported being detained, transported to a local school and interrogated by Tanzanian officials.
Those unable to provide evidence of Tanzanian nationality were reportedly returned to Mozambique through a different border point from the one used to enter the country.
The conditions at Negomano are dire and needs are acute for food, water and sanitation and health services but only limited humanitarian assistance is reaching the remote area.
UNHCR and its partners have been providing protection and basic assistance to 50 000 people in northern Mozambique last year.
They plan to assist an additional 250 000 people by the end of this year.
Some 724 000 people have been forcibly displaced since the conflict started in the Cabo Delgado province in 2017.
– CAJ News