In Mozambique, the Catholic apostolic administrator of Pemba issued an appeal on Palm Sunday for an end to violence in the northern province of Cabo Delgado where jihadi fighters linked to the group calling itself Islamic State are terrorizing the local population.
Bishop António Juliasse, the Diocese of Pemba's apostolic administrator in Cabo Delgado, called for an end to the war in the province, where extreme violence by the terror group has led to at least 2,000 deaths and over 700,000 displaced, Vatican News reports.
The Islamic State, also known as ISIS, appears to be expanding its influence in Mozambique by solidifying its hold in Cabo Delgado, one of the country's most important provinces, the Global Observatory reported on March 26.
The reports focused on insurgent operations along the south coast of Africa in the country that borders countries like South Africa, Zimbabwe and Tanzania.
Its report reveals that the jihadists linked to ISIS, especially those operating under the name Al Sunnah wa Jama'ah (ASWJ), have consolidated their hold in Mozambique's northern Cabo Delgado region and captured the city of Mocímboa da Praia last year.
The fighters are now perpetrating attacks on the Afungi peninsula, only miles from energy giant Total's operations, targeting lines of communication and overrunning government outposts across the region.
PALM SUNDAY SERMON
Meanwhile, in his sermon for Palm Sunday, Bishop António Juliasse invoked Christ's mercy so that "all can be changed from within" and this war "that no one understands and that harms everybody can finish as soon as possible."
He reminded Mozambican leaders of their duty to guarantee Justice so as "to preserve people from evils."
The bishop said, "Justice in a nation is non-negotiable. A leader who does not practice Justice is no longer truly a leader."
He stressed that the government should pay attention to the poorest and help them overcome poverty, and no one should be excluded "for religious, political, ethnic or even regional reasons."
Bishop Juliasse also stressed that religious leaders should not incite violence because, he said, "there is no religion of violence.".
On the other hand, he noted that government leaders cannot "wash their hands" of their responsibilities, like Pilate, because it condemns innocent people.
If a leader washes his hands, he condemns all the people he governs", he emphasized.
The bishop called on God to show Mozambicans another way: "not the way of violence, not the way of cruelty, but the way of love, of fraternity."
In Geneva, United Nations agencies expressed horror and alarm on March 30 at the violence inflicted on civilians in Palma, where they have no access and insurgents who are locally known as "al-Shabaab" have control.
"What has happened in Palma is an absolute horror being inflicted on civilians by a non-state armed group," said Jens Laerke, spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) at a UN press conference in Geneva.