Muidumbe: Total Devestation

“Everything is destroyed…” The report, sent by Father Edegard Silva to the AIS Foundation in Lisbon, is definitive. The Nangololo mission, located in the District of Muidumbe, has been attacked, occupied and destroyed by armed groups that are spreading terror and death in Cabo Delgado province, Mozambique.

“On October 30, the terrorists returned to occupy the District of Muidumbe where our Mission is located”, says the Brazilian Priest and Saletino Missionary. “Armed and violent men have been in charge of the entire mission area for twenty days …” The arrival of the terrorists led to the general routing of the population.

“The entire population has fled to the bush. We took refuge in Pemba”,  he says. During this time, the entire area was under the control of the insurgents, who just left the Catholic mission space last Thursday, 19 November.

Only then was it possible to verify what happened. There is no room for doubt in the face of the destruction caused in the Nangololo mission. Father Edegard writes that “everything is destroyed … the house where we lived turned into ashes … all the equipment was burned…The parish headquarters destroyed… the community radio burned. The sisters’ house destroyed”.

The reports that arrive in Pemba do not speak only of the destruction of the buildings of the Mission, the Church, the Radio and the sisters’ house. They also tell of intense suffering of the population in the face of the violence of the attacks, with reference to “massacres”. “Along the way, they are finding many bodies that are already decomposing and where massacres took place. The terrorists’ actions are violent, many people have been beheaded, houses burned and torn down… ”

Father Edegard Silva says that this is a dramatic situation. It speaks of the “pain of a people”. “People who still can’t find their families. People who have had their houses burned. Many people murdered. There is talk of massacres and 500,000 displaced people. Destroyed lives and villages. ”

Fr Edegard mentions the importance of “international solidarity” in the face of this scenario of war and destruction, with the need to “direct lodging, food, medicine, water, tents, tarpaulins… to 500 thousand people…”

Journalists Who Fled Muidumbe Are Safe

Journalists who witnessed attacks by rebels and survived for two weeks in the forests of Cabo Delgado, northern Mozambique, are safe. They said that there are many abandoned bodies and children alone, lost in the bush. “The situation is out of control, there are many children, alone and lost in the woods,” said Beatriz João, a journalist at Rádio Comunitária São Francisco de Assis, located in the district of Muidumbe.

“I came across many of these children while walking kilometers towards Montepuez,” she told the National Community Radio Forum. But many residents were unable to escape. The Parish Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus “was being used, in recent days, as a base for the insurgents”, she said. “They left the previous place where they were  due to the smell of the decomposing corpses in the streets” she added.

Moisés José, another journalist who was also a refugee in the bush, said that “the insurgents captured countless women. One of them was my 27-year-old daughter who happily managed to escape to the bush and join us,” .

In the place where he was a refugee for days, “there were many bodies in the process of decomposition”, he described.

The terror in the Muidumbe district started at 4:30 am on 31 October. “We started to hear shots close by,” reported Hilário Tomás, another journalist with the community radio.

The insurgents started offensives in the upper part of the district, where most of the population lived: Ntchinga, 24 March, Namaculo, Nangunde, Namacande, Muatide and Muambula.

“When the insurgents realized that the communities were fleeing to the lowlands, in Miangaleua, they started to follow them and kill those they met along the way. I ran away with my family and we were hidden in the bush for more than 10 days,” he related.

Mozambican Army Recaptures Muidumbe

The commander-general of the Police of the Republic of Mozambique (PRM), Bernardino Rafael, said on Thursday 19 November that the Defense and Security Forces (FDS) had recovered the district headquarters of Muidumbe. More than a thousand troops participated in the operation, which resulted in the death of many insurgents.














Difficulties Continue for Mercenaries

 The UN secretary-general’s representative in Mozambique, Mirko Manzoni, said that the country’s partners should provide it with military aid to combat the rebels in Cabo Delgado. “Donors contribute to Mozambique’s budget, it would be wiser if they helped the Mozambican army directly, without hypocrisy,” he said Tuesday in an interview with the online edition of the Swiss newspaper Le Temps. He said he was opposed to the use of mercenaries, but the situation was complex: the reality on the ground must make us reflect.

“When you ask for help and nobody moves a finger, that is what happens. Mozambique spends its fortunes on mercenaries,” first with Russians from the Wagner group and now with a South African company, Manzoni said. “Let us listen to Mozambique’s appeal: military aid must be provided through cooperation,” that is, help the Mozambican army to fulfil its obligations, rather than taking its place.  He says he is aware that such aid is not well seen among the partners, who do not want to “get their hands dirty”, but it is an illusion to want to develop Cabo Delgado province without security first, he said.

The paramilitary firm Dyck Advisory Group (DAG), which provides air support to the counter-insurgency operations led by the Polícia da República de Moçambique (PRM) in the north of the country, is beginning to come apart at the seams. The former Zimbabwean colonel Lionel Dyck‘s management team, made up of Duncan Mac Arthur – head of logistics specialist Mako and military equipment provider Panzer Logistics -, and Simon Witherspoon and Brett Monroe, both directors of the large private security firm STTEP International (Africa Intelligence02/11/20), are losng the trust of their staff.

DAG’s head helicopter pilot Quintin Paul quit in November after just a few weeks on the job. The attractive pay package was also not enough to keep his predecessor Matthew Oldridge, who previously worked for the South African fire fighting firm Kishugu Holdings.

There are other senior staff members on the verge of jumping ship, including Dyck’s right-hand-man Hendrik Bam. His companion in arms Rudi Koekemoer is also threatening to leave. Koekemoer joined DAG on its first operation in Cabo Delgado in August 2019, a few weeks after he took part – along with Bam – in Christiaan Durrant‘s attempt to get involved in the Libyan conflict through his company Lancaster 6.

Development Already Taking Place In Depopulated Areas

Now that the coastal areas no longer have any population to be resettled, major investments  in and around Mocimboa da Praia are beginning. A local source has confirmed that there is major infrastructure and town planning investment taking place in Mocimboa da Praia at present. Ongoing Surveying and Fencing is in progress in allegedly abandoned Mocimboa with the purpose being construction. According to the source, work is being done in collaboration with UAE enterprises.

One project in Mocimboa aims at extending the harbour, and involves Privinvest (Iskandar Safa’s company that was implicated in the “hidden debt” scandal). They own a company AMT which supplies technical inputs into the construction of Palma Gaz LNG trains and of Gaz City. They also appear to control the highly lucrative coastal shipping, since there is no longer any road transport possible to the north.


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