Attacks by jihadists in Mozambique force nuns, priests, church workers to flee to cities

(Photo: Juan Michel / WCC)Explosion in Mozambique

A new outbreak of unrest in northern Mozambique, plagued by a jihadi insurgency, has forced thousands to flee their homes, according to United Nations figures and sources in Cabo Delgado province, heavily impacting Christians.

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Citing an alert from the UN migration agency IOM, VOA reported that recent attacks in the Macomia, Chiure and Mecufi districts had displaced 13,088 people, most of them children, by bus, canoe, and on foot.

Mozambique's President Filipe Nyusi confirmed there had been new population movements but played down the threat and insisted security forces had the situation under control.

The fresh attacks by jihadist insurgents in the northern province of Cabo Delgado are forcing priests, nuns, and other church workers to flee to cities already overwhelmed by internally displaced peoples, according to Vatican News.

The fresh attacks follow a period of relative calm, following the deployment of the Mozambique Defense Armed Forces (FADM), and later those of Southern African Development Community (SADC) forces.

But the Islamic State, or Daesh as it is known, has recently resumed attacks in the Mozambican Province of Cabo Delgado.

Since the beginning of 202, the northern province where the insurgency broke out in 2017, then spreading to neighbouring provinces, has seen a new upsurge of attacks.

Sources in Mozambique told the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) that the attacks have also forced Christian communities, priests, nuns and other church workers to flee to cities already overwhelmed by internally displaced people (IDPs).


In the latest incident, the church and offices of Our Lady of Africa mission in Mazeze in the Diocese of Pemba were set ablaze following a terrorist attack on February 12 on the port city, which serves as the province's capital.

As reported by Aci Africa agency, the parish priest confirmed the attack in an interview with Radio Pax of the Catholic Archdiocese of Beira, adding that no casualties were recorded.

(Photo: Juan Michel/WCC)

The only thing the parish priest managed to save from the fire, he said, was the Blessed Sacrament and the books of sacraments, baptisms, and marriages that he had brought with him.

ACN was told that three days earlier, on Feb. 9, terrorists had also destroyed houses and churches in several villages in the province.

Citing local sources, ACN reported that the insurgents, for the most part, don't discriminate between Muslims and Christians, but there have been attacks on specifically Christian communities – including cases where they separated people by religion and executed Christians.

The conflict in Mozambique has claimed over 4,000 lives, and according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR),  nearly one million people have been displaced in the region - three percent of the total population - moving from rural areas to overcrowded cities.

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