JOHANNESBURG (AP) – The humanitarian crisis in northern Mozambique is growing rapidly. Nearly 670,000 people have been displaced by an Islamic extremist insurgency in Cape Delgado state, international aid groups said on Tuesday.
The rebels behead children as young as 11, according to Save the Children, who interviewed grieving families.
The number of displaced people has risen sharply by more than 500,000 in the past year, with nearly 1 million people in need of food assistance, according to the United Nations. The large number of displaced people depends on the generosity of already poor families, water, food and sanitation are widespread.
More than 2,600 people have been killed in the conflict since 2017, according to the 2017 Draft Conflict Location and Event.
In response to the deteriorating security situation in Cabo Delgado, the United States sent military experts this week to train the Mozambican army to fight extremists.
Extremist extremists have been guarding the port city of Mokimboa da Praia since August, and in recent months they have attacked several villages, making it unsafe to travel to other centers by road. The extremists are allies of the Islamic State group, but are known locally as “al-Shabab”, although they have no known connection to the Somali extremist rebels who bear that name.
The conflict is in a resource-rich area where huge liquefied natural gas fields have been discovered, and the French gas company Total has launched multibillion-dollar investments.
Families fleeing the violence walk day and night on jungle trails and encounter the remains of those killed or killed by insurgents during a dangerous journey, say Save the Children staff, who interviewed the survivors.
The rapidly increasing number of displaced people comes at a time when the state of Cape Delgado is still recovering from severe cyclones in 2019.
“Reports of child abuse are making us sick,” said Chauns Briggs, director of Save the Children in Mozambique. “Our staff are in tears when they hear stories of suffering told by mothers in displaced camps. “This violence must end. Displaced families need support when they find their bearings. Recovery from injury.”
Last week, the Biden administration designated extremist insurgents in Mozambique as a “foreign terrorist organization” and imposed extensive sanctions on the group.
The war crimes were committed by all parties to the Mozambique conflict, including jihadist rebels, government forces and South African mercenaries providing helicopter support to government forces, according to Amnesty International.
A statement from the US Embassy in Mabuto, Mozambique, on Monday said US military experts would conduct a two-month training program with the Mozambican Marine Corps to “prevent the spread of violent terrorist extremism.”
In addition to the training, the US government will also provide medical communication equipment, the statement said.
Following reports of abuses in the Mozambique conflict, the United States issued a brief statement stressing that the trainers would promote human rights.
“The United States prioritizes respect for human rights, the protection of civilians, and the involvement of civil society in all security assistance,” the statement said. “The United States is committed to supporting Mozambique in taking a comprehensive, comprehensive approach to counteracting the spread of terrorism, to violent extremism.”
This report was submitted by Tom Booker in the French city of Hues.