from ARMANDO DOMINGOS in Maputo, Mozambique
MAPUTO, (CAJ News) – THOUSANDS of civilians forced to flee their homes in the largest wave of displacement in months are in harm’s way in Mozambique.
This as the fragile Southern African country heads into its annual tropical storm cycle.
Tropical Storm Ana, which has killed at least 25 people since making landfall last week, and the impending Cyclone Batsirai, come at a time northern Mozambique is experiencing a surge in violence particularly in the Cabo Delgado province.
Islamist groups are perpetrating the terror.
The current crisis is concentrated in the centre of the province, mainly in Meluco and Macomia districts.
Local authorities have reported more than 20 attacks on four villages in the past two weeks. More than 2 800 homes have been damaged or destroyed.
Since late January, more than 14 000 people have been forced to leave their homes and are now in search of safety and the basic means of survival.
The displaced civilians lack access to medical care.
The annual tropical storm cycle presents an increased risk of life-threatening disease outbreaks as displaced people live without shelter, clean water, or proper sanitation.
They are vulnerable to malaria and diarrheal disease.
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is worried at the surge of displacements as the cyclone season is setting in.
“This is a very dangerous combination,” said Raphael Veicht, head of MSF’s emergency unit.
“We are extremely concerned about the protection of civilians within this acute and escalating conflict,” Veicht said.
Since late January, MSF teams have been running mobile clinics and distributing food, shelter and hygiene kits for 800 families in small villages and towns where many displaced people have now congregated.
MSF is concerned these villages, including Ancuabe, Mitambo and Nanjua lack basic infrastructure to sustain many people.
Veicht said with the onset of the rainy and cyclone season, years of conflict and the worsening humanitarian emergency, it is more important than ever that MSF teams have unrestricted and safe access to the area.
“It is absolutely crucial that medicines and medical supplies can be imported speedily, without bureaucratic delays, so that MSF can scale up the provision of lifesaving health care in Cabo Delgado province,” Veicht said.
The unrest since 2017 in the gas-rich region has claimed around 4 000 lives.
More than 800 000 people have been displaced.
– CAJ News