Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused Mozambique’s army of crimes against displaced persons in the conflict. Hungry and sick civilians in the northern troubled region of Cabo Delgado are being prevented from traveling to safe areas. “The restrictions imposed by the state security forces prevent tens of thousands from leaving and put them at risk of fighting and aid shortages,” HRW complained on Friday.

The organization spoke to several of the 88,000 civilians who fled the city of Palma in an attack by Islamists in late March. They are now stuck in the neighbouring village of Quitunda. There is a lack of water, food and medicine there. “If help does arrive occasionally, we fight for it,” said a 28-year-old, who has already made three attempts to escape. Those affected report that they were ill-treated by soldiers when they tried to escape.

According to its own statements, the army suspects rebels among the encircled refugees. Nevertheless, Mausi Segun, Africa director at HRW, emphasizes: “Government forces are obliged by international laws to lead people to safer areas when fighting and food shortages threaten them.” The organization demands quick access to humanitarian aid.

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