Mozambican bishop seeks help for displaced following attacks

Mozambican bishop seeks help for displaced following attacks

A young girl walks away after receiving a plate of food and drinking water at a temporary shelter for children in Pemba city, on the northeastern coast of Mozambique, Thursday May 2, 2019. (Credit: Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP.)

A Catholic bishop in Mozambique appealed for humanitarian assistance to feed hundreds of thousands of displaced people, following late-June attacks in the country's northern province of Cabo Delgado.

NAIROBI, Kenya — A Catholic bishop in Mozambique appealed for humanitarian assistance to feed hundreds of thousands of displaced people, following late-June attacks in the country’s northern province of Cabo Delgado.

He told Catholic News Service July 20 that people were receiving help from the World Food Program and the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, but he estimated that more than 250,000 people were displaced.

In a statement the previous day, Bishop Luiz Lisboa of Pemba said that, in late June, a group of extremists had attacked the area, killing more than 1,000 people, burning local structures — including a Catholic school and church — and displacing hundreds of thousands of people, mostly women and children.

“We really need help,” he said. “First, we need prayers to stop the war and, secondly, humanitarian aid because the needs are many.”

“We need all possible solidarity from inside Mozambique, outside Mozambique so that we can provide a minimum response to at least the primary needs of our brothers and sisters,” he said.

He said those displaced from their homes were scattered, because insurgents attacked about nine of the 17 districts in Cabo Delgado.

“The rest of the districts are hosting the displaced in a special way, the city of Pemba is very crowded … each family welcomes one or two or three more families,” he said.

“And because of overcrowding in the provincial towns, displaced people are already starting to go to neighboring provinces,” he said.

The bishop said the displaced are in very difficult situations: They either must depend on the host families, or those in the camps are totally dependent on the humanitarian aid that is given.

“The minimum conditions are lacking so that they can have assistance with the dignity that every human being deserves,” Lisboa said.

The region has witnessed growing instability since October 2017, when Islamists attacked a military base and a police station in the coastal city of Mocimboa da Praia, where foreign companies are undertaking a $60 billion gas oil project. Two police officers died in the attack.

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