Prospecting Continues Further South along the Coast

Prospecting for minerals is continuing along the coast, south of Cabo Delgado, raising concern amongst local communities that significant discoveries there will lead to insurgencies, militia attacks and attempts to force indigenous communities off their land. Exxon is advancing with prospecting for oil, and has “evidence” that there are significant deposits of oil in the Angoche basin, Nampula Province, south of Cabo Delgado. According to a local source: “If petrodollars equal war, then Nampula Province won’t escape, and the whole north of the country will be unsafe”.

In Zambezia Province, south of Nampula Province, the President of the Association of Mining Operators  (ASOMIZA), Mr Carlos Joaquim, has denounced the prospecting currently happening in the districts of Pebane and Chinde, without consultations with the local communities. On Monday 2 November a meeting took place at a hotel in Quelimane between officials of The Ministry for Mineral Resources and Energy and the companies conducting the prospecting. The meeting was not advertised, and no representatives of affected local communities were invited.

Muidumbe Atrocities Continue to Reverberate Around the World

The beheading of more than 50 civilians on a football field in Muidumbe continues to reverberate around the world. On 10 November the Secretary General of the UN, Antonio Gutteres, issued a statement “Vehemently” condemning the incident, and calling on Mozambican authorities to do everything possible to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to book. On Thursday 12 November, the Mozambican government issued a statement dismissing reports as fake news, and denying that the beheadings took place.

The Catholic Church is assisting the affected community. A Catholic charity, Aid to the Church in Need, is sending emergency aid to the Diocese of Pemba in response to the incident. “It seems as though they are trying to evict the entire population of the northern part of Cabo Delgado province, expelling the ordinary people without the slightest vestige of compassion,” Sister Blanca Nubia Zapata, a religious sister told Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

“Over 12,000 people have arrived here in the past two weeks. We can’t keep up. Women and children are arriving, and older people who have been walking for days. Some have died on the way, on the roads and the forest tracks,” Zapata said.

ACN has announced that it is sending 100,000 euros (around $118,000) in emergency aid to Mozambique following the news of the latest beheadings. This aid includes blankets, clothing, food, and basic hygiene products for the displaced in Mozambique, as well as counseling for trauma victims.

“We want to help the Diocese of Pemba and the neighboring dioceses with emergency aid for the victims of Cabo Delgado, on top of the projects we are already sponsoring within the dioceses for their priests and religious,” Regina Lynch, head of projects for ACN International, said Nov. 10.

Muidumbe Attacks Prompt Evacuation of Mueda

The occupation of Muidumbe and the widely reported beheadings have raised terror, being widely seen as a precursor to an impending attack on Mueda – about 30 km from Muidumbe. Not only is Mueda the birthplace of current Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi – it is also the de facto government military headquarters of Cabo Delgado, containing the largest government military base and one of the few serviceable airstrips in the area.

On Wednesday 11 November the insurgents had reached Matambala and Miteda villages (approximately 15 km from Mueda) by early morning. In their advance, 24 of the 26 villages between Muidumbe and Mueda had been completely razed to the ground. By the afternoon, Mueda had been completely encircled – the only way that still remained open was the road leading south. Public buses were instructed not to travel to Pemba or Nampula from the following day, and to refund all passengers who had already bought tickets.

The situation in Mueda was already dire – there was no water in the town, or fuel for generators. By Thursday 12 November a mass exodus began, with panicked residents loading everything they could on to the few available trucks or buses, and heading southwards. On 13 November it was reported that Bernardino Rafael, the Police commander in Mueda, had evacuated his family and all his possessions to Nampula. A source in Nampula confirmed that Police and Military officers began arriving in Nampula from Mueda on the afternoon of Friday 13 November.

According to reports from persons who fled Mueda over the weekend, the Mozambican Army attempted to re-capture Muidumbe, but were repelled by insurgents. Residents of Mueda continue to flee, with any form of transport they can find, or on foot if there is no transport. It would appear as if insurgents are well armed, and outnumber government forces. Those fleeing Mueda are saying that the insurgents are regrouping, have already surrounded Mueda on three sides and are preparing for an attack on Mueda within the next seven or so days. Mueda is the main operational base for Mozambican government forces in Cabo Delgado. The fall of Mueda would significantly alter the course of the war.

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