Slow aid response to Mozambique risks fuelling insurgency: UNHCR

The UN is warning that the response to the growing humanitarian crisis in the north of Mozambique is too slow. Jihadists, known locally as Al-Shabab and affiliated to ISIL, have wreaked havoc in the Cabo Delgado province for the past four years. The humanitarian crisis was worsened by last year's floods and Cyclone Kenneth. Courtesy #DStv403

MAPUTO - The slow response to a humanitarian crisis in Mozambique's remote north risks fuelling radicalisation and exacerbating the insurgency gripping the region for the last three years, UN officials warned.

Jihadists, known locally as Al-Shabab and affiliated to the Islamic State group, have wreaked havoc in the gas-rich but deeply impoverished Cabo Delgado province since 2017.

The attacks have uprooted at least 670,000 civilians, placing severe pressure on humanitarian aid services.

READ: SA private militia allegedly involved in Mozambique conflict

During a visit to Cabo Delgado, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) officials decried the slow response by the government and the international community to appeals for more resources.

"If services are not provided there is a risk of radicalisation and it is possible it will be a fuel for the insurgency," UNHCR's Gillian Triggs told an online briefing from the province.

Jobless young men are "disgruntled" and living in difficult situations, creating fertile ground for recruitment into the ranks of the insurgency, she said.

READ: Total pulls staff from Mozambique gas site over jihadist threat

"It is a desperate situation," said Triggs, who is the UNHCR's assistant high commissioner for protection.

The violence escalated last year, triggering a humanitarian crisis similar to the end of Mozambique's 16-year civil war that ended in 1992.

The humanitarian crisis was worsened by last year's floods and Cyclone Kenneth which struck in 2019.

READ: Mozambique insurgency: Islamists scaling up attacks

Access to the region has been hampered by insecurity and poor transport networks.  

The insurgency has killed at least 2,600 people, half of them civilians, according to the US-based data collecting agency Armed Conflict Location and Event Data (ACLED).


Paid Content