The people living in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado have been victim of violent extremism, carried out by Islamic terrorists since October 2017.

As a result of the attacks, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency, about one million people have fled their homes in the last five years due to the violence.

In addition to deaths and displacement, various public and private infrastructures, including health facilities, have been affected by the terrorist action.

When, in 2021, the terrorists stepped up their attacks near the town of Palma, the French oil and gas multinational, TotalEnergies, declared force majeure to suspend all activities at its liquefied natural gas (LNG) project, valued at 20 billion US dollars.

Then, later that year, in response to the wave of terrorist violence, the government strengthened the capacity of the Mozambique Defence and Security Forces (FDS) and launched a military response with the help of the Rwandan Defence Forces and the Southern African Development Community Military Mission (SAMIM).

 Therefore, it acceptable to that in 2022, the terrorists were overpowered and the regions that were already under their control were recovered. The peak of the government forces’ success came when, in August 2022, the leader of the terrorists, Bonomade Machude Omar, better known as Ibn Omar, was taken down, along with two other key members of the group’s leadership.

However, things changed at the beginning of this year, with increasingly robust terrorist attacks against populations, religious institutions and commercial establishments.

When TotalEnergies announced the resumption of activities to exploit Rovuma gas, the terrorists stepped up their attacks even more. As a result, the French government was forced to back down and advise its citizens not to travel to Cabo Delgado and some districts of Nampula Province.

Therefore, some voices indicate that this war is politically motivated or that it has to do with the great wealth that this province possesses.

After an apparent calm, attacks in some districts of that part of the country have flared up again in recent days. People who had returned to their areas of origin after the first attacks are tending to leave “their homes” again.

This situation has had negative economic and social impacts.

Reports from Cabo Delgado about the health sector are extremely worrying. Because of the new attacks that are appearing on a daily basis, the health units are operating with difficulties and there are no conditions for normal patient care.

Some health centres have been forced to close their doors for fear of invasion by the so-called insurgents. As a result, communities, including health professionals, are leaving the areas.

According to the provincial delegate of the Association of United and Supportive Health Professionals of Mozambique (APSUSM) in Cabo Delgado, Vitorino José, the situation is worrying.

José describes the moment as extremely insecure, because it is unknown when the insurgents will attack.

“The situation in Cabo Delgado is very critical. At the moment, there is a displacement of the population, as well as officials, our colleagues, who are leaving their areas of origin, where there are attacks”, he said.

According to José, because of the attack that took place on 12 February at the Mazeze administrative post, in the Chiure district, four health professionals, members of APSUSM, had to leave the area and are currently in the town of Chiure.

In the attack in question, the insurgents set fire to the local health centre, as well as the office of the administrative post and the residence of the administrative head of the post.

They also destroyed the chapel belonging to the Catholic Church.

“On Tuesday, we had information from other colleagues who had also moved on, some of whom are out there in the woods, incommunicado because of the attack that took place at the Ocua administrative post, also in Chiure, where the perpetrators burned a fuel truck and clashed with the Defence and Security Forces”, he explained.


He added that “at the moment, I’m in contact with the provincial directorate to find out what the situation is with the colleagues and, through this, we can keep in touch with them. We still don’t have any information on where the colleagues who left Ocua are. We’ve tried to make contact with friends and family, but so far we haven’t managed to get any concrete information”, he lamented.

José also explained that even in health centres that haven’t suffered, “health colleagues go to work timidly. There’s always fear, especially for the colleagues who usually work at home, assisting patients with HIV and AIDS and tuberculosis. This makes it difficult not only to enter these places, but also to locate these patients, because they are no longer in their usual places”, he said.

It should be remembered that at the session of 13 February 2024, the Mozambican government, through the spokesperson for the Council of Ministers, Ludovina Bernardo, asked the population for calm, assuring them that the troops are are working to stop the attacks.

“We want to guarantee that the measures our forces are taking to combat terrorism are praiseworthy. We believe that one day the country will be free of terrorism”, he said.

Meanwhile, the attacks continue, with signs of an upsurge in that part of the country.

According to Cabo Delgado’s Reconstruction Plan for areas affected by terrorism 2021-2024, the impact on the health sector includes the total destruction of 10 health facilities, the partial destruction of 29 and the vandalising of 39, out of a total of 131 facilities.

It is obvious that terrorism is worsening the shortage of health infrastructure in that province. It is therefore urgent for the Mozambican state to mobilise more robust strategies to combat terrorism. (OCS)

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