1. Defence Minister denies conflict is spreading as number of attacks and number of IDP’s continues to escalate

 

Mozambique’s Defence Minister Cristovão Chume said there was “no spread” of the armed conflict in northern Mozambique, despite continuing attacks in Nampula and Cabo Delgado. “There is no spread. They are small groups” that attack in neighbouring provinces and, “so it is possible to move very easily, attack at one point and disappear through the woods,” said the Defence Minister, quoted on Monday (03.10) by Mozambique Television. He assured that all rebels will be “captured sooner or later.” “There is no bandit that will last forever, no matter how long it costs,” he said.

On the same day that Chume made this statement, Alberto Armando, of the National Institute for Disaster Risk Management and Reduction (INGD) in Nampula, told Lusa New Agency that rebel incursions in September in Nampula caused a total of 47,000 displaced people.

“We had registered a total of 47,000 people displaced by these attacks in the province, but most of them have returned to their home regions. Currently, we have 18,000 people who are still displaced,” he said. The wave of displaced people recorded in early September in Nampula was caused by rebel incursions into villages and communities in two districts located in the far north of the province, on the border with Cabo Delgado, and the populations who fled were welcomed mainly in Namapa, the district capital of Eráti, by family members and people of good will.

Attacks in Cabo Delgado itself are also continuing. On Friday 30 September insurgents carried out two more attacks and beheaded three men in the districts of Meluco and Macomia, in the center of Cabo Delgado. On the same day another attack was recorded in a region between the villages Koko (Macomia) and Nangololo (Meluco), about four kilometers from the latter village, where a victim who had gone to cut bamboo was beheaded.

TOTAL has repeatedly said that it would only resume operations once Cabo Delgado is stable. Proof of this will be when IDP’s begin returning to their places of origin. Anxious to see TOTAL resume operations, government officials (including President Nyusi) five months ago began calling on IDP’s to return, claiming that the conflict was over, even going as far as threatening civil servants with disciplinary hearings if they did not return. At the same time Bishop Juliasse Sandramo of Pemba, and other Catholic Church leaders said that it was not yet safe to return. Several IDP’s returned to their villages. Some of those who returned were killed by insurgents on the way back. Others were killed in attacks on their home villages after arriving back. Repeated attacks occurred in Muidumbe, Macomia and other districts considered to be safe. The claim by the Minister of Defence, that the conflict is not spreading and will soon be over, is another desperate attempt by the government to convince TOTAL and other investors that the situation is under control, and that production can resume, when reports from the ground clearly show the opposite to be true. Once again the lives of the poor are being sacrificed on the altar of economic expediency.

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