Home NewsAfrica Mass Displacement as Over 99 000 Forced to Flee Amidst Surge in Violence

Mass Displacement as Over 99 000 Forced to Flee Amidst Surge in Violence

by Thaabit Kamaar
Image Source: Doctors Without Borders

Maputo – Over the past two months, insurgents in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province have intensified their attacks across various districts, leading to the brutal deaths, abductions, and displacement of civilians.

According to the charitable organisation Save The Children, more than 99 000 individuals, including over 60 000 children, have been forced to evacuate their homes due to the violent clashes between security forces and insurgency groups within this timeframe.

Professor Adriano Nuvunga, the Director of the Centre for Democracy and Development, attributes this renewed violence to the Southern African Development Community Mission in Mozambique’s (SAMIM) decision to withdraw its troops from the province earlier this year.

Furthermore, in response to this information, he criticised the Mozambique government for not promptly taking action to identify and deploy military replacements. He emphasised the genuine risk that these militants could become a regional threat if immediate measures are not implemented.

“It is not a good idea for SADC to withdraw from Cabo Delgado. If SAMIM is withdrawing, then there has to be an immediate replacement force because the threat of violent extremists is not only about expanding to other parts. But this is going to be a threat for the region from which they can launch attacks to the capitals of other countries.”

In recent years, SAMIM, in collaboration with the Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) and the Mozambique Defence Armed Forces (FADM), has been engaged in combat against armed groups responsible for destabilising the region. These insurgents have perpetrated numerous reported atrocities against civilians, contributing to an unparalleled humanitarian crisis in the area.

Despite a year of relatively subdued activity and a semblance of stabilisation, SAMIM opted to withdraw. This decision presented an ideal opening for insurgents to regroup, unleash chaos, and recapture territory which security forces had previously taken.

SAMIM’s introduction to Cabo Delgado faced a problematic onset marked by political discord, tensions, and disapproval from Mozambique’s politicians and soldiers.

According to Professor Nuvunga, there is an underlying sentiment that the Mozambique government did not wholly acknowledge the contributions of the SADC. Consequently, beyond their officially stated reasons for withdrawing, he speculates this lack of appreciation may have influenced their decision.

“This is not a responsible policy from our top leadership. There hasn’t been an appropriate appreciation of the SADC deployment. This created a certain annoyance from the Secretariat of SADC.”

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The Poor Condition of the Mozambique Army

SAMIM’s primary objectives in the province were twofold. First, to assist the reportedly unfit-for-combat FADM in countering and neutralising the terrorist threat, and second, to reinstate law and order in the region.

However, their withdrawal will significantly affect the FADM, as they must fill the void left behind. This entails the FADM taking on the responsibility of independently monitoring, holding, and patrolling more territory.

While Professor Nuvunga acknowledged some marginal improvements in the FADM, he remains critical, asserting that these advancements are insufficient to ensure the security of Cabo Delgado. Furthermore, he extended his criticism to the army’s deplorable state, attributing their challenges to issues of poor national governance and state corruption.

“You cannot protect your country, your Independence, and your sovereignty with a starving army. Soldiers have to eat, they need to have proper equipment, and they have to be paid their salaries to feed their families. This is not happening. It is corruption that is stopping Mozambique from having a highly moralised and highly equipped army.”

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