Palma Attacked

Insurgents on the evening of 24 March attacked Palma town, with militants reportedly assaulting the town from the north and west, and engaging soldiers in the area.  Militants reportedly engaged soldiers on the road to Man’Guna, effectively cutting the road to the Afungi LNG Camp.  Fighting was also reported near the Amarula Hotel on the northern side of the town; other sources said militants had targeted Standard Bank in the town.  Several sources also reported Vodacom services were down in the Palma and Afungi areas during the attack.  By 1820hrs local time, military sources said the insurgent attack had been repulsed, saying insurgents had infiltrated the town and hidden in local residences.  No information on casualties are currently available, and the end of these clashes have also not yet been confirmed.  One unverified report said that some of the militant leaders who led attacks in Muidumbe in October-November 2020 were involved in the assault.  A single source also claimed that Islamic State-linked media had claimed responsibility for the attack, though this has also not been verified.

Separately, two other sources said insurgents had also attacked the village of Assumane/Mapalanganha area, south of Mute along the R762 road at the same time as the Palma assault; this reportedly triggered an evacuation of local sub-contractor personnel from the area.  No further information on this second attack is currently available.

These attacks comes just a day after sources first reported that Total intended to resume works at the Afungi LNG Camp after Mozambican security forces enhanced security measures around the site.  Insurgents’ last confirmed attack in Palma District came on 2 March, when they attacked a border post at Namoto.

The attack on Palma has raised questions amongst the local civilian population. It comes barely weeks after TOTAL announced that the Mozambican government had agreed to a 25 km “buffer zone” around its installation at Afungi. Several locals feel that the attack is part of a coordinated campaign to drive local communities further away, to enforce the 25 km buffer zone.

A local commentator posted the following on the Justiça Nacional Facebook page:

“After all, who are these “jihadists”? What strength do they have? How do you manage to penetrate a place full of soldiers? The place was further strengthened. There’s a rat here. It could not be the population that gives them shelter,  because they are being  beheaded without mercy. There are those who profit from this. The Americans are already here training our military, but even that doesn’t scare the “jihadists”. They are increasingly daring. And they dominate the zone. And they have precise details of where the government army is stationed. They don’t even need the darkness of the night to assault a town, district or village. It’s daylight!”

The attack on Palma comes less than two weeks after US Marines began training operations in Cabo Delgado, and could mark an escalation of the conflict. A leading Mozambican political commentator, speaking on condition of anonymity, said:  “These are surgical attacks designed to put Total and its employees in an uproar, and for the government to have more reason to hire more mercenary companies and give Americans more green light to go big on the ground.”


Court Victory For Community Affected By Tete Coal Mine

In a historical judgement, the Administrative Court ruled against the Brazilian mining company “Vale Moçambique” for denial of information about its activities in Moatize, in the province of Tete, and on the relationship with communities.

The Bar Association of Mozambique, on 2 October 2019, in terms of the Right to Information Act, asked “Vale Mozambique, S.A. ” for information about the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Government, “Vale Mozambique ”and the communities affected by the coal mine at Moatize,  all agreements concluded with communities or benefits to them; detailed information about the actual payment of compensation to affected communities, including the potters whose workshops were destroyed by the mining company, compensation paid to families affected by the activity of “Vale Moçambique” in Moatize, in the context of exploiting coal; information about the current stage of the resettlement of communities affected by the project and resolution of the claims presented by communities; information on livelihood guarantees, income generation and security for the affected communities, information about total amount of taxes paid by the “Vale Moçambique” to the Mozambican State, as a result of the extraction, information about conflict resolution mechanisms or complaints from communities in affected areas, information on activities carried out by the “Vale”, for the benefit of communities affected by the project. “Vale Moçambique” ignored the order, in violation of the Right to Information Law.

The Bar Association of Mozambique took the matter to the Administrative Court. After the lower court ruled against Vale, AIM reported on 24 March that the Administrative Court rejected Vale’s appeal, and confirmed the ruling of the lower court. The Mozambican Bar Association welcomed the ruling, and said in a statement:” Families affected are entitled to benefit directly from the development concerned. Vale Mozambique should comply with the law and make available the requested information in order to contribute to a better society”.

The landmark decision asserts the rights of communities affected by mining activities and sets a legal precedent for the communities in Cabo Delgado  (Palma and Montepuez) that have been affected by extractive activities in their areas.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Continued Reaction to Presence of US Marines

Regarding the presence of US Marines in Cabo Delgado, ACLED (https://acleddata.com ) pointed out that:” The announcement of the training is more important than the training itself. To start, the 2021” Joint Combined Exchange Training” (JCET) does not appear to be the first of its kind. Journalist Wesley Morgan, who has strong contacts in the US special operations community, reports that Green Berets conducted a JCET in Mozambique in 2019 that did not receive the same level of publicity.

The announcement of the JCET does indicate a new level of security cooperation between Mozambique and the US. Following the US sanctions designations against ISIS-Mozambique, the JCET announcement and the high-level delegation the US sent to launch the mission confirms that the US will seek to support — and influence — the military side of the Mozambican government’s counterinsurgency strategy going forward. So far, that has meant bringing Mozambique further into the structures the US has utilized in its war on terror elsewhere in Africa and the world. By adding Mozambique to the Partnership for Regional East Africa Counterterrorism, designating the insurgents as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, and announcing the JCET, the US is using much the same playbook in Mozambique that it has deployed in situations as disparate as Somalia and the Philippines. Whether that playbook will work in Mozambique — or, indeed, if it has worked in other parts of the world — remains to be seen.”


UN Funding For Humanitarian Response Critically Low

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported last week that displacement continues to rise, with total civilians displaced by the conflict nearing 700,000. The UN expects there to be one million displaced civilians by June. They also noted that international response to the crisis remains anemic. As of March, international donors had funded only 39% of the modest $19.2 million UNHCR budget request for Cabo Delgado in 2020-21. The funding levels are concerning, but more concerning is their lack of movement — UNHCR’s Cabo Delgado operations were also 39% funded in February. The UN’s overall $254 humanitarian appeal for Mozambique also remains only 5% funded.

 

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