Government Responds to Islamic State insurgency in northern Mozambique, reports of the displacement of 200,000 people, of wide-spread killings, and of the seizure of towns by IS in Cabo Delgado; an gives their assessment of reports of churches being burned down, and of Christians being attacked, in northern Mozambique.
Baroness Sugg, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL6822):
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the prevalence of Islamic State (IS) insurgency in northern Mozambique and reports (1) of the displacement of 200,000 people, (2) of wide-spread killings, and (3) of the seizure of towns by IS in Cabo Delgado; what discussions they have had with the government of South Africa about reports that it is considering a military intervention in northern Mozambique; and what plans they have to provide humanitarian assistance to those people who have been displaced. (HL6822)
Tabled on: 14 July 2020
The UK is deeply concerned about the situation in northern Mozambique and the increasing attacks by groups with links to Islamic extremism. We strongly condemn the targeting of civilians and the temporary seizures of the towns of Mocimboa da Praia and Quissanga by insurgent groups. The Foreign Secretary discussed the situation in northern Mozambique with President Nyusi on 11 June, urging him to address the underlying causes of the insurgency as well as its effects. We support the Government of Mozambique to address the drivers of conflict and instability in northern Mozambique, including through engagement with the Government of Mozambique’s regional development authority in Cabo Delgado and with targeted technical assistance under the framework of a Defence Memorandum of Understanding. The UK also has a substantial aid programme in Mozambique, worth £168 million in 2019/20, which includes programmes to drive more inclusive growth and to improve good governance in Cabo Delgado.
We are also concerned about the 200,000 people displaced as a result of instability in Cabo Delgado. The UK has committed over £3 million through the World Food Program and Food and Agricultural Organisation to deliver food assistance, shelter, improvement of water and sanitation, the treatment of acute malnutrition and agriculture recovery.
The Minister for Africa discussed the situation in northern Mozambique with the Deputy Minister for International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa on 16 July. They agreed on the importance of maintaining peace and stability in the Southern African region and on central role of the Southern African Development Community in achieving this.
Date and time of answer: 23 Jul 2020 at 13:22.
Baroness Sugg, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL6823):
To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the recommendations of the Bishop of Truro’s Independent Review for the Foreign Secretary of FCO Support for Persecuted Christians, published in June 2019, what assessment they have made of reports (1) of churches being burned down, and (2) of Christians being attacked, in northern Mozambique; and what discussions they have had, if any, with the Bishop of Pemba in northern Mozambique about such reports. (HL6823)
Tabled on: 14 July 2020
We remain deeply concerned at the scale of Freedom of Religion or Belief violations in many parts of the world. We recognise that people’s religion and gender can increase their vulnerabilities, particularly those from minority groups. The Government has committed to implementing the Bishop of Truro’s 22 recommendations in full. This work is being overseen by the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, Rehman Chishti MP. 11 of the recommendations have already been implemented, or are in the process of being implemented. Work is ongoing to implement all the recommendations in a way that will bring real improvements to the lives of those persecuted because of their faith, belief, or because they have no religious belief
We are aware that homes and commercial buildings have been targeted by groups with links to Islamic extremism in certain areas of northern Mozambique, particularly in the coastal town of Mocimboa da Praia on 23 March. The insurgents have attacked and terrorised all the peoples of Cabo Delgado, irrespective of their beliefs. The UK strongly condemns any targeting of civilians by insurgent groups, regardless of their religion.
The British High Commission hopes to reinstate a planned visit to Cabo Delgado to meet all faith leaders including the Bishop of Pemba as soon as possible once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and it is safe to do so.
Date and time of answer: 23 Jul 2020 at 13:22.
ACN Warns : “World turns its back as Mozambique crisis worsens”
ACN News: Thursday, 23rd July 2020 – MOZAMBIQUE
Images: Families who fled Mocímboa da Praia, Cabo Delgado province, Mozambique after it was attacked by Al Sunnah wa Jama’ah on 26th June 2020. (Credit: Aid to the Church in Need).
World turns its back as Mozambique crisis worsens
By Paulo Aido
AS the crisis caused by the jihadist incursion into northern Mozambique worsens, the international community is failing those caught up in the chaos, according to a leading European politician.
Portuguese MEP Paulo Rangel told Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) that the world is turning a blind eye to what is happening in the province of Cabo Delgado, north-east Mozambique, where violent attacks by Islamist militants have caused hundreds of deaths and left more than 200,000 homeless.
Mr Rangel, who is also vice president of the EPP (European People’s Party parliamentary group), said: “The international community is nowhere to be seen in regard to the problem”.
He added: “It is already becoming late to act, yet it is better to do so now rather than later.”
Mr Rangel also told ACN that the extremist group Al Sunnah wa Jama’ah, which claims to be affiliated to Daesh (ISIS), has been kidnapping young men and women.
He said: “At present we know that there are young girls who have been abducted and enslaved, forced into sexual slavery by some of these guerrillas, these insurgents, these terrorists…
“We know that the recruitment of boys and adolescents, some of them very young, aged 14, 15, 16, is also happening. It is obvious that these young boys are under coercion. If they refuse to join the group, they could be killed”.
Mr Rangel described the situation in Cabo Delgado as “a powder keg” and appealed for help for civilians affected by the violence – especially those forced to flee their homes following jihadist attacks.
He added: “What is happening at present in Cabo Delgado is that people are fleeing to the towns, where they believe the attacks will be less likely, because they have seen what is happening in the villages…
“At the same time this dislocation of the population is not just a direct result of the attacks on the villages and smaller towns but is even a reaction of panic, which is absolutely justified. As a result, people are fleeing for their own protection, even before being attacked.”
According to the MEP the exodus is compounding existing problems: “The people were already living in extreme poverty, facing grave difficulties.
“The problem is that at the present moment these people are facing the threat of death, of losing their homes, of becoming uprooted”.
Mr Rangel stressed that this is not a religious war. Both Christians and Muslims have been victims of the extremists.
He said: “The Bishop of Pemba [Luiz Fernando Lisboa] has been absolutely clear in all his prophetic interventions and in all the appeals he has made – and he has been the great apostle of this cause. He has made clear that the Muslims are also suffering greatly.”