In Mozambique, lack of hope entices the young to join terrorist ranks

THE BISHOPS OF MOZAMBIQUE, gathered for their plenary assembly, issued a statement April 16 on the situation in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, where Islamists terrorists have been sowing death and destruction. Excerpts follow below.

… We deplore and condemn all acts of barbarism committed in Cabo Delgado, defenseless people are killed, injured, and abused. They see their possessions plundered, the privacy of their homes violated, their homes destroyed and the corpses of their family members desecrated. They are forced to abandon the land that saw them born and where their ancestors are buried. These of our peers, mostly women and children, are pushed to the precipice of insecurity and fear. We deplore the prevalence of this state of affairs, with no clear indication that there will soon be an overcoming of the causes that fuel this conflict. This state of affairs increases and consolidates the perception that behind this conflict there are interests of varying nature and origin, namely of certain groups to seize the nation and its resources. Resources that, instead of being placed at the service of local communities and becoming a source of livelihood and development, with the construction of infrastructures, basic services, job opportunities, are taken, with a total lack of transparency, feeding the revolt and resentment, particularly in the hearts of young people, and becoming a source of discontent, division and mourning.

Displaced in Cabo Delgado

We recognize that one of the strong reasons that motivates our young people to allow themselves to be enticed and join the various forms of insurgency, from crime to terrorism, or also that other insurgency, no less harmful, of political or religious extremism, is based on experience of lack of hope in a favorable future on the part of our young people. For most of them, there are no opportunities to build a dignified life. They feel that society and decision makers ignore their suffering and do not listen to their voice. It is easy to entice people, full of life and dreams, but without perspectives and who feel wronged and victims of a culture of corruption, to adhere to proposals for a new social order imposed with violence or to follow illusions of easy enrichment that lead to ruin. How can young people have perspectives if the country itself does not seem to have a direction, a common project, in which they are invited to be active collaborators and that feed their hopes? …

We urge the national political forces, the organizations present in the country, the international community to join forces and, putting aside their interests, ensure that the displaced populations are helped, those who live in severe food shortages, exposed to endemic diseases and without access to basic services. It is also urgent to create more work and development opportunities for all, particularly for young people and, to that end, apply the gains of available natural resources to the community. Finally, we call on everyone to contribute to peace-making, protecting the population, closing the war financing routes, isolating and stopping individuals or groups that take advantage of the Cabo Delgado tragedy.