Jihadist raid on Mozambique's Palma forced 30 000 to flee: UN

0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
  • The UN said on Friday that tens of thousands of people had fled the northern Mozambican town of Palma following jihadist attacks late last month that left dozens dead.
  • Of the coastal town's roughly 75 000 population, almost half - 30 000 - "have moved" since the 24 March raid by Islamic State-linked militants.
  • The IOM's emergency director said there were some 60 000 displaced people in five districts who could not be reached by aid agencies.


The UN said on Friday that tens of thousands of people had fled the northern Mozambican town of Palma following jihadist attacks late last month that left dozens dead.

Of the coastal town's roughly 75 000 population, almost half - 30 000 - "have moved" since the 24 March raid by Islamic State-linked militants, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) chief of mission in Mozambique, Laura Tomm-Bonde, told AFP.

This was in addition to some 23 000 who are believed to have moved to nearby Quitunda village, close to a huge gas plant being built by the French energy giant Total. The firm suspended work on the scheme after the attacks.

The latest displacement takes the numbers of people uprooted from their homes in Cabo Delgado province to around 700 000, according to government and aid agency tallies.

Tomm-Bonde said this compared to 100 000 displaced persons in January 2020.

The jump indicates "a big crisis," she said, adding: "We are gravely concerned."

"The number of displaced people reported by IOM continues to increase by the day," she said.

"Thousands are believed to be travelling through dense forests."

The IOM's emergency director, Jeff Labovitz, who is visiting Mozambique, said there were some 60 000 displaced people in five districts who could not be reached by aid agencies.

He told AFP:

We want to be able to reach people who have needs," We need to make sure there is a secure environment with national authorities in order to get access. Until then, we are very concerned.


The raid marked a major intensification in an insurgency launched in 2017 by a ruthless jihadist group known locally as al-Shabab.

The violence has killed at least 2 800 people, according to the US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data (ACLED) project.

In Geneva earlier, UNHCR spokesman Babar Baloch said the refugee agency was deeply concerned by humanitarian needs, especially for women and children.

"Those who fled have faced significant barriers trying to reach safety both inside the country and while attempting to cross borders," Baloch told reporters.

Equally concerning, he said, was the separation of families.

"Hundreds of children have arrived traumatised and exhausted after being separated from their families. Many others have come with their mothers."

Baloch said those escaping violence were arriving with "no belongings, often with health issues including injuries and severe malnutrition."

He stressed that some people were continuing to flee Palma.

"With only a few evacuation routes remaining open, we are worried for those who are unable to leave the area," he said.


Do you want to know more about this topic? Sign up for one of News24's 33 newsletters to receive the information you want in your inbox. Special newsletters are available to subscribers.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
Is social media doing more harm than good?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes, our children are exposed and we can't protect them
49% - 6243 votes
Yes, but social media is part of the new reality
45% - 5712 votes
No, it's great for growing a child's world view
5% - 667 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
14.14
-0.1%
Rand - Pound
19.85
+0.0%
Rand - Euro
17.08
-0.3%
Rand - Aus dollar
10.92
-0.2%
Rand - Yen
0.13
-0.2%
Gold
1,824.01
-0.1%
Silver
26.98
-0.4%
Palladium
2,889.51
+0.8%
Platinum
1,220.00
+0.8%
Brent Crude
67.05
-3.3%
Top 40
60,211
0.0%
All Share
66,169
0.0%
Resource 10
69,474
0.0%
Industrial 25
82,513
0.0%
Financial 15
12,499
0.0%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo