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Terrorists strike again in Northern Mozambique

Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) increases aid

While the new bishop of Pemba is asking the world not to forget about the situation which has caused over 4,000 deaths and led to 800,000 displaced people, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has committed to a new emergency support package for these internally displaced persons (IDPs). The charity is also carrying on with the work of its campaign launched in April to address the country’s needs, which are more pertinent than ever. 
Cover photo: The destruction of the church in Mocímboa da Praia in November 2020).
December 2021, in a camp for displaced persons. Bishop Antonio Juliasse Ferreira Sandramo (on the right) and a team from ACN visit the future site of a service center, entirely financed by Aid to the Church in Need. They participated in a very moving welcoming ceremony.

Terrorists have struck again in the region of Cabo Delgado, in the northernmost part of Mozambique, killing an unknown number of people, kidnapping women and children, and forcing at least 10,000 to flee, bringing the number of displaced to well over 800,000.

The latest attacks took place in the districts of Ancuabe and Chiure after nearly a month of relative peace, and seemed to confirm changes to the modus operandi of the terrorist group which identifies itself as the Province of Mozambique of the Islamic State.

Whereas the terrorists began their activities in October 2017 with large-scale offensives, they now tend to strike in smaller groups, making it easier to infiltrate and attack small villages and settlements.

“We are in a very confused period, with new attacks spreading to the southern region of the diocese, causing a lot of panic and uncertainty. Thank you for your help,” the current bishop of Pemba, António Juliasse Ferreira Sandramo, said in his latest message to ACN.

Already in 2020, people displaced by attacks on their villages had to take refuge in camps.

The government has stepped up the military presence in the area and is providing protection to convoys along the main roads, but local witnesses who asked not to be identified have told the international charity that the army has also suffered casualties. “It has not only been civilians who have been decapitated, but also soldiers. We are finding it very difficult, however, to obtain more accurate information,” says the source.

Bishop Sandramo, who was installed in office at the end of May, calls on the world not to forget the plight of Mozambicans. “Cabo Delgado still faces a terrorism problem and needs the presence of the whole world, both for humanitarian aid and to search for global solutions so that Mozambique can find stability, peace, and progress,” declared the bishop to ACN.

“We have parishes that have been practically destroyed, priests who are living in difficult situations because they had to abandon their missions empty-handed, children, elderly people and others who are in great need, and we can’t handle it by ourselves.” In some places, missionaries have been advised to retreat to safer areas.

“I ask the world to please not forget about Cabo Delgado,” he adds.

Jihadist group, somewhere in the province of Cabo Delgado.

ACN commits to new help

Mozambique is a predominantly Christian country, except in the north of the country where Muslims make up the majority. A large number of IDPs is non-Christian. Even when in the minority, however, the Church has been a beacon of aid and stability for all those affected by the violence in the northern regions.

“Parishes and religious communities continue to be places of relief. They are present when people arrive, they welcome them, offer food, shelter, spiritual assistance, and psycho-social support,” says Bishop Sandramo.

The new bishop of Pemba shows his appreciation for Aid to the Church in Need, which has been on top of the situation, both by spreading information about the crisis and by providing immediate assistance. Speaking about the approval of new help for refugees, he adds: “Even though the military intervention generated some hope for a return of the people to their places of origin, that continues to be a very distant reality.”

“Aid to the Church in Need is a very good friend of Cabo Delgado, Mozambique, and Africa. It has done so much to help, and thanks to that help we, as a Church, have also been able to carry out our work, draw closer to our flock and be a tool of evangelisation. I want to thank all those who cooperate so that ACN can help needy people all over the world. And may God bless all its benefactors!” he says.

Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has been assisting with pastoral, material, and psycho-social support projects for those who have been forced to flee their homes. It has also provided construction material for houses and community centres in order to rehouse people and has helped with the acquisition of vehicles for missionaries who are working with the displaced.

Women of all religious traditions and social conditions in a camp for displaced people in 2020. “In many countries [in Africa], attacks by armed groups are often arbitrary, profit-oriented, rooted in cycles of inter-communal violence, and indifferent to the religious identity of their victims, with attacks being made on Muslims and Christians alike.” Religious Freedom in the World, Executive summary 2021.

To make a donation towards the urgent needs in Mozambique, please visit:
https://acn-canada.org/donate/

Or call 1-800-585-6333

By mail:

Aid to the Church in Need (Canada)
Mozambique Emergency
Postal Box 670, Station H
Montréal, QC H3G 2M6

Ontario ACN Canada Sub-Office
Mozambique Emergency
P.O. Box 69117, St. Claire Centre
Toronto, ON M4T 3A1

Telephone: (416)-785-0498

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