Mozambique unrest - OkayAfrica

People wait on the outskirts of the seaport of Pemba on March 30, 2021 for the possible arrival of their families evacuated from the coasts of Afungi and Palma after the attack by armed forces against the city of Palma on March 24, 2021.

Photo by Alfredo Zuniga / AFP

Mozambique's Political Unrest: Where Things Stand

Fears continue to be on the rise as more attacks by militants are anticipated in Mozambique's Cabo Delgado province.

On March 24th, militants stormed Palma—a gas-rich city in Mozambique—as part of an ongoing insurgency in the country dating back to 2017. Dozens of civilians have been killed although an official death toll has not been declared as of yet. Currently, at least 8000 more have been left displaced, fleeing to other parts of the country and attempting to seek asylum in Tanzania. This is believed to be the worst attacks carried out by the Islamist militant group, Al-Shabaab, to date.

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The situation in Mozambique is dire with civilians facing displacement, hunger and the possibility of more attacks from the ISIS-linked insurgency group. The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) writes the following:

"The escalation of violence in Cabo Delgado has severely impacted health, water, and shelter facilities and access to food in the region. This harrowing humanitarian crisis is compounded by an already fragile situation of chronic underdevelopment, consecutive climatic disasters, and recurrent disease outbreaks including, most recently, COVID-19."

The crisis has admittedly been worsened by Tanzania refusing entry to Mozambican survivors of the attacks. The Tanzanian government has not yet commented on their decision to do so, according to eNCA. There have also been gruesome reports of foreign nationals in Mozambique having been ambushed and subsequently beheaded in addition to the beadings of children as young as 11-years-old.

The South African government recently deployed the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to aid in the repatriation of South Africans who are currently still trapped in Palma. According to TimesLIVE, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is still deliberating whether or not to send in troops to aid Mozambique's security forces in securing Palma and restoring peace.

Since 2017, at least 2500 people have been killed with between 400 000 to 700 000 having been displaced from their homes. According to the Foreign Policy Research Institute describes the motives behind the insurgency in Mozambique saying, "Al-Shabaab has not been particularly outspoken about the goals of its insurgency, but it has articulated a desire to establish rule by a hardline version of Islamic law in Cabo Delgado."