Mozambique: Attacks Displace Thousands as Cyclone Season Begins

Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province has seen a recent surge in violence that has forced thousands of people from their homes.

Mozambique is also experiencing an increased risk of extreme weather events, as it experiences an annual cycle of tropical storms that leaves little time for recovery.

Furthermore, due to displacement and lack of access to medical care, many people in Cabo Delgado are now in a vulnerable position. 

Local authorities have reported more than 20 attacks on four villages in the past two weeks, resulting in the destruction or damage of 2,800 homes.

In Cabo Delgado, the current crisis is concentrated in Meluco and southern Macomia districts. 

On account of the escalating conflict, over 14,000 people have been forced to flee their homes since late January and are now seeking safety and the basics of life. This has been the largest displacement in the past several months.

“Violent attacks and ongoing insecurity in several districts of central Cabo Delgado have driven thousands of people from their homes with nothing but what they can carry, at the very moment the cyclone and rainy season is setting in,” says Raphael Veicht, head of MSF’s emergency unit. 

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“This is a very dangerous combination. Our teams are responding to the new waves of forced displacement by providing people with basic healthcare as well as much-needed household and shelter items. We are extremely concerned about the protection of civilians within this acute and escalating conflict.”

Mozambique experienced Tropical Storm Ana last week – the first tropical storm of the season. Cabo Delgado’s displaced residents will be particularly vulnerable to future tropical storms as many do not have access to clean water, sanitation, or shelter. Flooding frequently occurs during storms, which significantly increases the risk of infectious diseases such as malaria and diarrhoea.

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There are now many displaced people living in small towns and villages in central Cabo Delgado such as Mitambo, Ancuabe and Nanjua, where MSF teams have been running mobile clinics and distributing food, shelter and hygiene kits for 800 families since late January. However, these villages lack the basic infrastructure to sustain so many people, especially clean water, shelter and access to medical care.

“In Mitambo, where we conducted mobile clinics and food distributions, the situation became very tense as more and more displaced people arrived in the village,” says Jean-Jacques Mandagot, MSF project coordinator. “Some were sleeping in fields while others were sheltering in thatched-roof houses left empty by residents who had already left for somewhere safer. Some people stayed for one night and moved on looking for safer areas, while others stayed longer because they lacked the means to keep going.”

Mitambo lacks a permanent health centre and essential infrastructure, such as clean water. In the past, residents would travel to a health centre in a nearby village, but now, people must travel a great deal further and more at risk – while some people cannot access healthcare at all, as they cannot afford to travel or do not want to undertake those risks. 

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As a result, our Mitambo mobile clinics in late January had to fill the gaps.


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