Escalation of conflict and violence drive massive displacements and increased humanitarian needs in Cabo Delgado
The humanitarian situation in Cabo Delgado Province, in northern Mozambique, significantly deteriorated over the last 10 months. The ongoing conflict in the region has escalated in 2020, compounding a fragile situation marked by chronic underdevelopment, consecutive climatic shocks and recurrent disease outbreaks. The increasing number of attacks by non-state armed groups, particularly impacting the northern and eastern districts of the Province, are driving massive and multiple displacements, disrupting people’s livelihoods and access to basic services.
More than 355,000 people are estimated to be internally displaced in Cabo Delgado, Nampula and Niassa provinces, up from less than 90,000 at the first months of 2020, according to preliminary data from IOM. The numbers continue to increase daily. More than 11,000 people arrived in Cabo Delgado’s capital Pemba from 16 to 30 October alone, fleeing violence in Ibo, Quissanga and Macomia districts. The violence, displacements and consequent loss of livelihoods are also increasing food insecurity in Cabo Delgado. Over 710,000 people are facing severe hunger, including people displaced and host communities.
The overlap of conflict and climatic shocks with pre-existing vulnerabilities in the region—including poverty, marginalization and harmful social and gender norms—significantly heightened protection risks. Women and children are at particular risk of exploitation and abuse, including forced recruitments and sexual violence, in addition to lack of access to education for girls and boys.
In Cabo Delgado Province, internally displaced people (IDPs) are mostly concentrating in the southern districts, due to safety and security as well as access to humanitarian assistance. Aid organizations and local authorities are currently conducting assessments across the three provinces hosting IDPs to identify new sites for relocation or resettlement of people affected by the conflict. The Cabo Delgado Government created, in September 2020, a Provincial Commission for Social Support and Reconstruction to coordinate the efforts and different relocation and resettlement plans at the provincial and district levels, in close liaison with humanitarian organizations operating in the region.
The escalation in violence has also impacted humanitarian assistance when people need it the most. Access to people affected widely reduced in 2020, especially in the northern districts of Cabo Delgado, and humanitarian organizations are facing incredible challenges to operate and reach those who need assistance, either due to the insecurity itself, infrastructure or administrative obstacles. Several attacks reported over the last few months on district capitals (Mocimboa da Praia, Quissanga, Muidumbe and Macomia districts) have forced many humanitarian actors to temporarily relocate from vital hub locations into the southern districts of Cabo Delgado, reducing their ability to assess and respond to the rising needs. At the same time, transport is incredibly challenging throughout the Province, as roads and infrastructure are in poor conditions. Moreover, physical access is expected to deteriorate further due to the approaching rainy season, between November 2020 and April 2021.
To respond to the increasing humanitarian needs in Cabo Delgado, the United Nations and humanitarian partners launched on 4 June 2020 a Rapid Response Plan to support the Government’s National Institute of Disaster Management efforts to assist people affected. The Plan seeks US$35.5 million to allow humanitarians to scale up urgent life-saving and life-sustaining assistance and protection services to 354,000 people until December 2020. To date, around $23 million have been mobilized through the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and contributions from the international community. Later in August, the Mozambique Government created the Agency for the Integrated Development of the North (ADIN), in an effort to address the root causes of the humanitarian crisis in Cabo Delgado, integrating and coordinating humanitarian and development responses.