UNHCR Notes Return of Internally Displaced People in Mozambique
Returning Yet Remaining: The Internally Displaced Persons
Recently, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that a significant number of internally displaced people (IDPs), approximately 571,468, have returned to their original areas of residence in Mozambique. This promising development, however, is far from being a complete resolution to the displacement crisis in the region as 850,599 people still remain displaced, caught between the raging threats of Islamist terrorism and the severe implications of climate change.
Mozambique: At the Mercy of Climate Change
Mozambique, a country already grappling with a myriad of socio-economic issues, finds itself particularly susceptible to the impacts of climate change. The nation was severely hit by Tropical Cyclone Freddy in February and March 2023, with this disaster following closely on the heels of the devastation wrought by Tropical Cyclone Gombe. These extreme weather events have affected over a million citizens, causing extensive damage to infrastructure and displacing approximately 184,000 individuals.
Hosting Refugees: A Shared Responsibility
Beyond the issue of IDPs, Mozambique also provides shelter to 30,000 refugees and asylum seekers. The UNHCR, in collaboration with the Mozambican government, is working to provide essential protection services and assistance to these vulnerable groups, which include refugees, asylum seekers, IDPs, returnees, and host communities.
The Funding Gap: A Critical Barrier
Despite the urgent need for resources, the funding for these operations is woefully inadequate. By the end of August, the UNHCR had only received $21.3 million out of its annual budget of $47.5 million for Mozambique. This constitutes 45% of the funds required to aid the two million people in Mozambique who are in critical need of assistance and protection.
Conflict versus Climate Change: The Causes of Displacement
The UNHCR’s data reveals a stark division in the causes of displacement. An overwhelming 79% (or 668,939) of the IDPs have been forced to flee due to conflict in northern Mozambique, while the remaining 181,660 have been displaced by extreme weather events. Approximately 45% of IDPs are currently living in relocation sites, while the rest have taken refuge in host communities.
The Ongoing Conflict: A Breeding Ground for Instability
The humanitarian situation in northern Mozambique deteriorated in 2022, with ongoing attacks by an Islamic State linked group, locally known as Mashababos or Al Shabab. The violence perpetrated by this group has led to a rise in abductions and destruction of homes, thereby displacing thousands of people. By the end of August, more than 946,000 were internally displaced in northern Mozambique after fleeing their homes in Cabo Delgado province.
The Struggle for Press Freedom and Peaceful Protest
The right to peaceful protest and freedom of the press came under significant pressure in 2022. Government security forces across the country continued to use force and arbitrary detentions to restrict people’s right to peacefully protest. New laws limiting freedom of expression and the work of journalists were debated or passed in the national parliament, further stifling freedom of speech.
Corruption and Kidnappings: A Persistent Threat
Corruption remains a pervasive issue in Mozambique, with the ruling party, FRELIMO, being accused of creating an environment of patronage and corruption. Police officers have also been implicated in cases of kidnappings for ransom across the country, further threatening the nation’s stability.
Climate Change: A Looming Disaster
Climate change presents a grave threat to Mozambique’s economy, food systems, and internal migration. With 70 percent of the population dependent on farming, declining food security due to climate change trends is a significant concern. Rising temperatures and flooding could devastate farmland, leading to widespread displacement of populations in the hardest-hit areas.
The complex security challenges and humanitarian crisis in Mozambique, fueled by conflict, climate change, and governance issues, require the concerted efforts of the international community. As the nation struggles to provide for its citizens and displaced populations, continued support from global partners is essential in mitigating the impacts of these crises and fostering sustainable development in the region.
Subscribe to BNN Breaking
Sign up for our daily newsletter covering global breaking news around the world.