from ARMANDO DOMINGOS in Maputo, Mozambique
MAPUTO, (CAJ News) – THE displacement catastrophe resulting from the conflict in northern Mozambique has triggered a crisis of early marriages.
This is a further human rights blow to children forced by conflict into displacement camps and crowded homes across the Cabo Delgado province.
Save the Children has recorded 108 cases of child marriage between January and March 2022.
The number of children newly married steadily increased, from six children in January, 32 in February and 70 in March, according to the agency.
These marriages have been reported in Chiure, Metuge, Montepuez and Pemba districts of Cabo Delgado.
Cabo Delgado already has the second highest rate of child marriage and the highest rate of adolescent pregnancy in Mozambique. Some 65 percent of adolescents aged 15-19 are already mothers or pregnant.
“Meeting displaced children and their families this week in Cabo Delgado and hearing what they’ve been through – the suffering, the trauma, the horror, the displacement – has been sobering,” said Inger Ashing, Chief Executive Officer of Save the Children International.
“Cabo Delgado was already the worst place in Mozambique to be a child before this conflict began; now, with massive displacement and horrific abuses, things are much worse,” Ashing said.
Parents reportedly face the devastating choice of being unable to feed their family or house all their children, and instead have to let them be married to lighten the load on the family.
Since 2017, conflict in Cabo Delgado province has led to the displacement of 784 564 people. This includes about 370 000 children.
The crisis in the Southern African country has left 1,5 million people in need.
There are continuing reports of grave human and child rights violations, including killings, abductions, recruitment and use of children by armed groups.
Islamist groups are perpetrating the violence in the resources-rich Cabo Delgado.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reports that Mozambique has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, affecting almost one in every two girls.
This is lamented as the second highest rate in the Eastern and Southern African sub-region.
– CAJ News