Islamic State Mozambique Invasion Sent Thousands Fleeing Country

TOPSHOT - A child plays in one of the alleys of the port of Paquitequete near Pemba on March 29, 2021. Sailing boats are expected to arrive with people displaced from the coasts of Palma and Afungi after suffering attacks by armed groups since last March 24. - Dozens of …
ALFREDO ZUNIGA/AFP via Getty Images

More than 50,000 people have been affected by recent Islamic terror attacks in northeastern Mozambique and need food assistance, the World Food Program (WFP) said Thursday.

Hundreds of terrorists believed to be linked to the Islamic State (ISIS) attacked the Mozambican natural gas hub of Palma, located in Cabo Delgado province, on March 24. The jihadis laid siege to the city for several days and killed dozens of Palma residents, including foreigners contracted to work at a nearby liquefied gas plant. ISIS formally claimed responsibility for the attack on Palma on March 29 and remained in control of the resort town as of the same day according to Dyck Advisory Group, a South African private security firm hired by the Mozambican government to defend Palma.

The attack sparked a grand exodus from Palma to neighboring towns and provinces.

“Hundreds of people fled the fighting, running into forests, mangroves, or nearby villages,” the BBC reported March 28.

“It’s a real humanitarian catastrophe,” WFP Director for Southern Africa Lola Castro said in a press statement issued April 1. “People are heading all over the place — by boat, on foot, by road.”

The WFP is distributing emergency food packages to “support the people wherever they are,” and collaborating with U.N.I.C.E.F. to supply a “desperate population” with drinking water, Castro said.

U.N.I.C.E.F. stands for the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund. The WFP is the food-assistance branch of the U.N.

“The situation is very bad and it’s affecting Cabo Delgado’s neighboring provinces,” Castro said Thursday, adding, “We don’t have enough resources to support the scale-up that is needed.”

The March 24 attack on Palma “uprooted many who had been sheltering there after having fled conflict in other parts of Cabo Delgado,” according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (O.C.H.A.).

More than 9,100 people have arrived in the Cabo Delgado towns of Nangade, Mueda, and Montepuez since March 24 and some displaced persons have even been driven to the nearby Tanzanian island of Pemba, the O.C.H.A. said in a flash update April 2.

“Roughly two-thirds of people arriving in neighboring towns are staying with host families, “who have generously opened their homes to those fleeing the violence,” according to the update.

“Thousands more are reportedly on the move through the forest in search of safety and are expected to arrive at different locations in the days ahead,” the office added.

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