1. Nampula province: Manipulation of statistics endangers lives of IDP’s

 

Despite ongoing attacks in Cabo Delgado, spreading to the south and west of the Province and resulting in well publicised movements of IDP’s into Nampula Province, UNHCR statistics have remained surprisingly constant for at least the past year – above 800 000, but never quite reaching a million. The latest statistics available on the UNHCR website (https://reliefweb.int/report/mozambique/mozambique-unhcr-fact-sheet-july-2022 ), published on 28 August 2022, gives a total of 946 508. The latest IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix (file:///C:/Users/jviljoen/Downloads/Northern%20Mozambique%20Crisis%20%E2%80%94%20DTM%20Baseline%20 Assessment%20Abridged%20Report%20Round%2016%20(June%202022).pdf ) gives the total for Nampula province as 76 568, with only 2 895 registered in Rapale, and only 168 in Namiconha and none registered in Nacala Porto. On 3 October 2022 the Director of the Mozambican National Disaster Management Agency (INGD) claimed that most of the 47 000 IDP’s who had fled to Nampula Province had returned, and that no more than 18 000 remained. But how accurate could this possibly be?

DHPI travelled extensively throughout Nampula province 15 – 24 November, and found that the situation on the ground flatly contradicts official statistics. From the provincial boundary at the Lurio River all the way to Namialo (a distance of more than 90 km), the entire expanse of road is lined with newly constructed huts of IDP’s on both sides of the road. At Namiconha, where only 168 IDP’s are reported, humanitarian workers already have more than 200 families on their lists – more than 1 000 people. At Rapale, where a total of 2 895 are reported, well-placed sources in the community have already registered more than 6 000 IDP’s, in one settlement alone. And at Nacala Porto, where IOM claims that there are no IDP’s, DHPI visited a project supporting large numbers of IDP’s in only one neighbourhood – local sources confirm that there are many IDP’s in all neighbourhoods of the city. Church sources confirm that there are large IDP communities in almost all towns and villages all the way to the southern border of the Province.

UNHCR and IOM depend on the statistics they receive from the government. The government is anxious to create the impression that the situation is stable and that IDP’s are returning to their places of origin – the minimum requirement for TOTAL to resume its operations at Afungi. Hence the downplaying (even denial) of the rapidly escalating humanitarian catastrophe in Nampula Province. The manipulation of statistics and the denial of the presence of huge numbers of IDP’s threatens the livelihoods of these IDP’s. If they are not registered and their presence is not acknowledged, they are not included in budgets for humanitarian assistance, and will not receive anything. Once again the lives of the poor are being sacrificed for the sake of political and economic expediency.

 

2. Rapale: A year later

 

DHPI visited Rapale in November 2021, and reported on large numbers of IDP’s arriving there, often on foot, from Cabo Delgado, and living in precarious conditions. DHPI again visited Rapale on Sunday 20 November, and found that the situation had deteriorated. In the original IDP settlement on the southern outskirts of Rapale, local sources still say that there are over 6 000 IDP’s (as opposed to IOM’s figure of 2 895). In addition, IDP’s are now present in every neighbourhood of the town, and in all distant villages in the surrounding areas. There are still no facilities – the “original” settlement now has water from a borehole, installed by a Catholic Sister. There is still no crèche or school, and no regular distribution of food or humanitarian assistance. DHPI was told that the Community of San Egidio came some time back to distribute food to IDP’s, based on a name list obtained from the local authorities. On the day of the distribution, many whose names were on the list did not even live in Rapale – they were accused of being friends and relatives of the local authorities. Anger boiled over. San Egidio never returned.

As elsewhere in Northern Mozambique, tension between IDP’s and host communities is escalating, and relationships between IDP’s and the government are breaking down. DHPI was told of a meeting between government officials and IDP’s, where IDP’s accused the government of doing nothing to assist them. Government officials in turn accused IDP’s o’ being supporters of the insurgency, before leaving the meeting without attending to any of the issues raised.

DHPI was told of several IDP’s who had heeded the calls to return home. They went, found their places of origin to still be under insurgent attacks, and returned to Rapale.

See pictures below of Rapale:

 

 

3. Cabo Delgado: The return of the Napharama’s

 

They were first seen during the Civil War – groups of young men who received vaccinations of a secret herbal formula from traditional healers, deemed to make them impervious to bullets. They used these powers to free their land of occupying forces. Over the past three weeks, the Napharama’s have been re-appearing in Cabo Delgado – at first in Balama and Namuno, but now spreading rapidly across the Province. In villages across the province traditional healers are vaccinating groups of young men (sometimes as many as 80 at a time), who then clear their areas of insurgents.

IDP’s interviewed by DHPI in Rapale show visible excitement when discussing the phenomenon. Most see it as the only solution. According to one report, Napharama’s in Balama District raided a camp of insurgents that had been terrorising the district for months, captured 22 of them and handed them over to the military. According to another report, two sub-districts in Balama and Namuno had already been cleared of insurgents by the Napharama’s.

In her PhD Thesis titled “Sociedade civil? Somos todos nós!”: Civil Society, Development and Social Transformation in Mozambique”, Prof. Tanja Kleibl of the University of Applied Sciences Würzburg-Schweinfurt gives fascinating insights into the movement:

“The religious-magical ‘Naparama’ army and movement was established during the 16-year-long Mozambican civil war . According to a priest interviewed in Quelimane (06.04.2015), the Naparama movement started around 1986 as a response to the increase in brutal violence during the civil war.

“The Mozambican Catholic priest I interviewed in Quelimane (06.04.2015), in his capacity as an expert in Chuabo traditional beliefs and witchcraft, explained to me that in particular young people and children got recruited into the group. He also stated that members of the group were using ‘magic white arms’ during the civil war struggle and that Naparama members were vaccinated with drugs from a very influential traditional healer and sorcerer. Some people I interviewed used to express fears in relation to members of the Naparama movement (e.g. Interview with AVODEMO members 04.04.2015 and with NAVEZA staff 06.04.2015), while others, in particular members of the UCM research team, referred to them as a group bravely fighting for peace and liberation from oppression.

“As part of recent research carried out in Mozambique, Kane (2015) concludes that the Naparama movement evoked a synthesis between Catholic practices (resurrection and sermon) with African religious and medicinal beliefs in herbal vaccinations and spirit possession. He states that this messianic and religiously syncretic vision of leading people against violence in a war enabled rural Mozambicans of different religious faiths to contest the culture of violence over which they had little everyday control”.

 

Above: A group of Napharama’s in Balama District after receiving the vaccination.

 

The emergence of the Napharama’s is being reported on in Mozambican media. Mediafax reported as follows on 25 November 2022:

(Maputo) At least five young people who were part of the group that has volunteered to receive a potion of magic of local traditional leaders were beheaded on Wednesday in the dense forests of Nairoto, district, Cabo Delgado. The beheading of the five young people was preceded by what is described as a “tough fight” between a terrorist group and about two dozens of young people, who because of traditional ritual which they undergo are locally called “napharamas”, a name of war and tenacity quite widespread throughout the civil war who opposed government forces and Renamo guerrillas. There are many young people who, in recent times, particularly in villages in the districts of Ancuabe, Balama and Montepuez, have volunteered to fight side by side with the Army. In Montepuez District young Napharama’s beheaded in Nairoto were defending their villages against terrorist attacks. Extremely violent images of the five bodies separated from their respective heads were shared, with the confirmation that it is the same five young people who had embraced courage to defend their people and villages. Death by decapitation is interpreted as a result of some kind of failure to follow the magical-traditional instructions that should be observed when chasing terrorist groups.

 

4. More attacks in Muidumbe

 

Armed attacks in Muidumbe cause population escape – DW – 21/11/2022 New attacks that have taken place since last week in Cabo Delgado, northern Mozambique, have put 2,000 residents in communities in the district of Muidumbe to flight, announced the International Organization for Migration (IOM). “Fear and confirmed attacks by non-state armed groups in Muidumbe district (Muambula) since November 16 have triggered 2,024 movements to Mueda district,” the organization said in a statement. The document summarizes data from just two days, according to which 43% of those displaced are children and 848 people are vulnerable. Most (76%) fled for the first time, but a quarter of those displaced have already escaped armed violence three times. Also in Cabo Delgado, in the district of Meluco, residents of the Minhanha community reported the abduction of four people, including two pregnant women, a five-year-old child and a man. The kidnapping took place on Friday afternoon (18.11), in agricultural fields and the kidnappers were hooded with black scarves, according to witnesses who fled to Mueda.

 

5. Relief supply vehicle attacked at Chitachi

 

Two people were killed in an attack on a truck belonging to an NGO near Chitachi, on Friday 18 November 2022. The following report is from an eye witness, who was present during the attack:

 

Yesterday’s attack!!! I had more information. The car that was attacked yesterday afternoon was a vehicle belonging to the organization Solidariedade – it means Solidarity in Portuguese, the car left on Friday afternoon in the district of Palma, after fieldwork with the destination of Pemba. Yesterday I was leaving Pemba for Palma, arriving in the Chitachi area near the Mienguelea area, the car was attacked. Inside the car were the manager and driver of the same Solidariedade project, and more people who were not part of the project. In this attack, two people died, the project manager and the driver, they were burned inside the car, other people fled, their whereabouts are unknown.

 

6. Archbishop of Canterbury visits Pemba

 

The Archbishop of Canterbury, rev. Justin Welby, visited Cabo Delgado during the third week of November. On Monday 21 November he met with the Catholic Bishop of Pemba, Bishop Juliasse Sandramo, and the Archbishop of Nampula and President of the Mozambique Episcopal Conference, Archbishop Inacio Saure.

 

 

7. Mozambican Bishops speak out on situation in the country

 

Catholic Bishops in Mozambique Call for Joint Effort in Addressing Insecurity “misfortune” (aciafrica.org)

Members of the Episcopal Conference of Mozambique (CEM) have cautioned against the sole reliance on the military

in addressing the “misfortune” of insecurity in the Southern African nation, and called for joint efforts.

In their message obtained by ACI Africa Thursday, November 17, the Catholic Bishops make reference to terrorist

attacks in parts of the country, and say, “We must join forces to find ways to resolve this misfortune, not relying

solely on the use of military force.”

“The continuation of this inhuman suffering is unacceptable and frustrates the dream of being a nation of peace,

harmony and independence, fair and solidarity,” CEM members say.

In their call for peace, the Catholic Bishops echo the words of Pope Francis during his visit to the Kingdom of Bahrain,

saying, “The God of peace never leads to war, never incites hatred, never supports violence.”

They continue in reference to the Holy Father’s message of peace, “We, who believe in Him (God), are called to

promote peace through instruments of peace, such as meetings, patient negotiations and dialogue, which is the

oxygen of living together”.

The Catholic Church leaders say they find it regrettable that the youth who are the hope for a peaceful Mozambique

are at the center of the violence that is tearing the country apart.

“We recognize that one of the strong reasons that move our young people to allow themselves to be enticed and to

join the various forms of deviance, is based on the experience of the absence of hope for a favorable future,” they

lament.

CEM members say that the youth are easily lured into violence because they do not have “opportunities to build a

dignified life”, and add, “It’s easy to entice people who are full of life and dreams, but without prospects.”

Unless the youth are given guarantees on how to realize their dreams, the Catholic Bishops say that the entire nation

will have its “dream of being the protagonist of its future compromised.”

In their collective statement dated November 11, Catholic Bishops in Mozambique also express concern about the

high cost of living, which “continues to drag already suffering men and women into extreme poverty, who have been

facing true martyrdom to put bread on the table.”

They attribute the high cost of living to climate change, restrictive measures to prevent COVID -19, the war in

Ukraine, and what they refer to as “hidden debts”.

CEM members say that social and economic inequalities are contributing to the high cost of living, manifested in “the

widening gap” between the rich and the poor.

There is need for “courageous policies to close the widening gap,” they say, and add, “Without the equitable and fair

distribution of resources and opportunities, without real social inclusion, our peace and social cohesion will always

be threatened. No peace survives exclusions and social injustices.”

The Catholic Church leaders have also identified corruption as another hindrance to the country’s wellbeing,

contributing to the challenges the country is facing.

They say, “Despite the efforts and proclamations in the fight against this social plague, a culture of corruption has

been established in the country, leading to people thinking that it is normal, that this is how things work; that it can

only be like this.”

The members of CEM decry corruption saying that it leads to channeling of public resources to private use, creating a

kind of inequality that only favors a few people.

“Corruption manifests itself in the constant ‘kickbacks’ (refreshments) that public servants must be paid to receive a

service that it is their duty to provide, in the diversion of public funds for private ends and interests, in nepotism and

clientele,” they say.

The Catholic Bishops further say that greed, which they say is a recipe for corruption in the country, has led “to

favoring large economic projects by foreign capital, implemented to extract natural resources without the real and

transparent involvement of the interested populations.” “Thousands of families continue to be removed from their fertile lands to make way for these investments, from

which they derive virtually no benefit,” they say, adding, “Often, in their regions, these communities do not find

space to give their opinions, because they are prevented from speaking, through mechanisms of social controls that

block their participation.”

CEM members say a change of attitudes and a commitment to conversion are necessary for Mozambicans if the

highlighted challenges have to be overcome.

“We invite everyone to commit to conversion, to changing attitudes, to rejecting any form of radicalism, to

overcoming intolerance among the social, tribal, political, economic, religious and racial groups that divide us,” they

say.

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