DHPI visited Nampula Province in Northern Mozambique over the period 14 – 21 February 2023. Many IDP’s and local persons were engaged with and spoken to. Below is a report of the latest situation on the ground.

Corrane Revisted

The IDP camp at Corrane was started in 2019, to accommodate those fleeing from Cabo Delgado. The site for the camp was unilaterally decided upon by Mozambican authorities. At the time it was said that it was decided upon because there was sufficient land available, which would enable IDP’s to feed themselves through subsistence farming. The following year, NGO’s were roped in to build houses for the IDP’s. The settlement arose overnight. Gravel roads were graded in a neat gridiron pattern. Solar powered street lights were installed. Plots were demarcated and shelters built on them. Boreholes were installed. There is even a small market, and a football field. Today Corrane is home to some 7 000 IDP’s.

Two years down the line, questions are being raised regarding the choice of location. Local sources say that only 300 families have been given plots of land for cultivation. They furthermore estimate that the land given to each family provides in no more than 30% of their nutritional needs – due to the size, the poor quality of the soil and extreme weather, ranging from debilitating droughts to flooding by cyclones. The lands given to them were previously cultivated by residents of the host community. This is no longer possible – consequently the host community is now worse off than the IDP community – they no longer have access to the lands they cultivated, and are not receiving food donations from NGO’s. This has resulted in conflict, with host community members attempting to block access to the IDP’s to their fields. It also contradicts the assertion that the site was chosen for the IDP camp because there was sufficient land available. Clearly there is not.

Local sources furthermore say that Corrane lies in the cyclone path, that is why it is severely affected by each cyclone – an increasing phenomenon due to climate change.

Corrane is situated 50 km south east of Nampula City. The track (it cannot be called a road) that leads there is almost impassable at the best of times. After rain it is actually impassable. The two photos below show the road to Corrane:

 

 

The location of Corrane has achieved two results. Firstly, IDP’s are stranded in a place where they have no access to economic opportunities. The nearest place where they can look for income is Nampula – two hours away by 4X4, and not accessible at all when it rains. There is no form of public transport. They are left fully dependent on the humanitarian support they receive from NGO’s. It is not possible to rebuild a life in a place where all means to do so are lacking.

Secondly, the location of the site makes it very difficult for media representatives to reach. There is a police post at the entrance to the camp, and “unauthorized” visits are not allowed. What happens there, happens outside of any public scrutiny, thereby consolidating control by the authorities. There has been a marked deterioration in the quality of housing. Initially, NGO’s (including Caritas Nampula) collaborated to build houses according to specifications laid down by the government. The picture below shows one of the houses built by Caritas.

 

 

Since then, standards have dropped. The photo below shows a house built this year by another organization:

 

 

The rudimentary quality of housing that residents of the house community have always have to contend with raises further tensions. The picture below shows a typical house in the host community:

 

 

Despite better housing, the situation of IDP’s is precarious. Reports were received of IDP’s regularly selling the non food items they receive from NGO’s, to buy food. When asked about death rates, local sources point out the old cemetery – it had 22 graves before the arrival of IDP’s. Today it is full. In addition, a second cemetery that was subsequently laid out is also full. However, there are no statistics on infant mortality rates, or adult deaths due to preventable causes.

The dismal situation of IDP’s should be seen against the background of political and economic developments. Following escalating attacks, TOTAL declared “Force Majeure” and suspended operations, saying that they would return when the situation had been stabilized, and IDP’s had returned. There has been enormous pressure on IDP’s to return, mostly from the authorities, eager for TOTAL to resume operations. In the week before the DHPI visit, the CEO of TOTAL (Patrick Pouyanne) visited Pemba, and announced the imminent resumption of operations, subject to certain conditions. Some weeks earlier, the responsible UN agencies announced that they had run out of money, and that food assistance would be halted to IDP’s. IDP’s that DHPI spoke to have lost hope. Most say that they now have no choice but to return – it might not be safe yet where they came from, but at least they would be able to plant crops and catch fish. In Corrane they fear death by starvation. There is a widespread belief amongst IDP’s that the suspension of food aid is a deliberate strategy to force them to return.

The imminent return of TOTAL and their conditions for returning are also problematic. According to unconfirmed reports, not only are they demanding a militarized buffer zone around the plant at Afun gi. Sources claim that they are also insisting on a buffer zone covering the entire coastal plain from Afungi to Pemba (more than 250 km), allegedly to safeguard shipping traffic between Palma and Pemba from attacks.

 

PHOTO REPORTAGE: CORRANE

 

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