Luis Nhachote reports:

Baby Awa became something of a celebrity last year when she was born in a crowded homemade wooden boat as her heavily pregnant mother fled a raging insurgency in Pangane in October.

Her birth on the way south to Pemba, the capital of Cabo Delgado in northern Mozambique, was a reminder that there is hope even in despair. Well-to-do people and charities – even government figures – made it to the sandy beach of Paquitiquete where the boat had moored, to offer her and mom, Muaziza Nfalume, blankets, diapers and food.

Almost seven months later, Awa’s luck seems intricately bound to the insurgency: the outlook is bleak. She and mother have been all but abandoned and forgotten, just as Cabo Delgado province itself was forgotten for decades, earning the moniker Cabo Esquecido – the Forgotten Cape . “Awa needs help,” says Nfalume. “She needs a mattress, she needs everything.”

Mother and child live with 25 other people in Paquitiquete, in a three- bedroom house belonging to Fatima Tawabo, who opened up her home to internally displaced people, 10 of whom sleep in a tent donated by the Red Cross. Tawabo’s brother is Valigy Tawabo, the current provincial governor, who allegedly only visited “when he read on Facebook that the baby was in my home”.

Some good news, at least, is that Awa’s father survived the insurgency and is on the island of Ibo, where he is eking out a living as a fisherman. Occasionally he is able to send money for the family, but it is never enough. The World Food Programme (WFP) gives the homestead a voucher for 3,600 meticais (just over $60) each month, but that does not stretch very far, either.

“Every time we go shopping, prices go up,” says Tawabo. “We can buy rice, oil and sugar. For everything else we depend on people’s charity.”

Her home is a microcosm of Paquitiquete. The poorest of Pemba’s neighbourhoods, it has continued to receive hundreds of people fleeing the insurgency in the northern parts of the province. On Wednesday, 53 more people arrived by boat, joining the growing ranks of the internally displaced – which means more mouths to feed. The luckier ones find succour and shelter with relatives; others sleep in the open.

Far from the glare of the media, another baby girl was delivered in a boat on Tuesday, a day before reaching Paquitiquete. She has been named Lizete by her mother, Lúcia, who says there were more than 40 people in the boat, including her “eldest son, Carlitos, aged seven, who witnessed the delivery”. They had been travelling for seven days. On arrival, they were registered and sent to a resettlement camp in a basketball court.

If Baby Awa, who was born famous, has been abandoned and forgotten, what fate awaits Baby Lizete, whose birth went unnoticed? She, too, has neither diapers nor cot; nor blankets nor clothing.

Perhaps, once the insurgency ends, Awa and Lizete will receive houses like Baby Rosita, who was born in the branches of a tree during the 2000 floods in the southern Gaza province. But by then there may be many more Awas and Lizetes – and not very many houses.

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