Terrorists strike Mozambique, ACN steps up aid

TERRORISTS HAVE STRUCK AGAIN IN THE REGION OF CABO DELGADO, NORTHERN MOZAMBIQUE, killing an unknown number of people, kidnapping women and children and forcing at least 11,000 to flee, swelling the number of displaced to more than 800,000.

The latest attacks took place in the districts of Ancuabe and Chiure after nearly a month of relative peace and seem to confirm changes to the modus operandi of the terrorist group which identifies itself as the Province of Mozambique of the Islamic State.

The terrorists began their activities in October 2017 with large scale offensives, and even took towns in Cabo Delgado, but they now tend to strike in smaller groups, making it easier to infiltrate and attack small villages and settlements.

“We are in a very confused period, with new attacks spreading to the southern region of the diocese, a lot of panic and a lot of uncertainty. Thanks for your help”, the current bishop of Pemba, António Juliasse Sandramo, said in his latest message to ACN.

The government has stepped up the military presence in the area, and is providing protection to convoys along main roads, but local witnesses who asked not to be identified have told Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) that the army has also suffered casualties. “It has not only been civilians who have been decapitated, but also soldiers. But we are finding it very difficult to obtain more accurate information,” said the source.

Bishop Juliasse Sandramo, who was installed at the end of May, calls on the world to not forget the plight of Mozambicans. “Cabo Delgado still faces a terrorism problem and needs the presence of the whole world, both with humanitarian aid and in the search for global solutions so that Mozambique can find stability, peace and progress,” the bishop told ACN.

“We have parishes that have been practically destroyed, priests who are living in difficult situations because they had to abandon their missions empty-handed; children, elderly people and others are in great need, and we can’t handle it by ourselves.” In some places missionaries have been advised to retreat to safer areas. “I ask the world to please not forget about Cabo Delgado.”

Displaced in Diocese of Pemba (johan viljoen)

Mozambique is predominantly Christian, except in the north of the country where Muslims are a majority. Many IDPs are non-Christian. Even in the minority, however, the Church has been a beacon of aid and stability for all those affected by the violence in the northern regions.

“Parishes and religious communities continue to be places of relief. They are present when people arrive, they welcome them, offer food, shelter, spiritual assistance, and psycho-social support,” said Bishop Juliasse.

The new bishop of Pemba shows his appreciation for Aid to the Church in Need, which has been spreading information about the crisis and providing immediate assistance. Speaking about the approval of new help for refugees, he adds: “Even though the military intervention generated some hope for a return of the people to their places of origin, that continues to be a very distant reality.”

“Aid to the Church in Need is a very good friend of Cabo Delgado, Mozambique and Africa. It has done so much to help, and thanks to that help we, as a Church, have also been able to carry out our work, draw closer to its flock and be a tool of evangelization. I want to thank all those who cooperate so that ACN can help needy people all over the world. And may God bless all its benefactors,” the bishop said.

ACN has mostly been assisting with pastoral, material, and psycho-social support projects for those who have been forced to flee their homes, but also through the supply of construction material for houses to relocate people and to build community centers, and the acquisition of vehicles for missionaries who are working with the displaced.

—Filipe D’Avillez