A Catholic charity is to send fresh aid to Mozambique following last week’s extremist attacks – with 17,000 people forced to flee Cabo Delgado Province this month alone.
Bishop António Juliasse Sandramo of Pemba told Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) that parishes and religious orders have been helping IDPs (internally displaced persons) after Islamist group Al Sunnah wa Jama’ah attacked Cabo Delgado’s Ancuabe and Chiure districts after almost a month of relative peace.
Mozambique’s total number of IDPs now stands at more than 800,000 – and more than 4,000 have been killed.
Describing the impact of the attacks, the bishop said: “We have parishes that have been practically destroyed, priests who are living in difficult situations because they had to abandon their missions empty-handed – children, elderly people and others are in great need, and we can’t handle it by ourselves.”
The prelate, who was only installed as bishop a month ago, added: “We are in a very confused period, with new attacks spreading to the southern region of the diocese, a lot of panic and a lot of uncertainty.”
ACN, which has been supporting the Church’s programme of pastoral, material and psycho-social support for IDPs – as well as projects to build houses to shelter the displaced and vehicles for missionaries caring for them – has promised more than £145,000 in fresh aid.
The Church is providing help for those made homeless by extremists in northern Mozambique, regardless of their religion.
Bishop Sandramo said: “Parishes and religious communities continue to be places of relief.
“They are present when people arrive, they welcome them, offer food, shelter, spiritual assistance and psycho-social support.”
Bishop Sandramo made an impassioned plea for the world not to forget the thousands affected by the insurgency in northern Mozambique.
He said: “Cabo Delgado still faces a terrorism problem and needs the presence of the whole world, both with humanitarian aid and in the search for global solutions so that Mozambique can find stability, peace and progress.
“I ask the world to please not forget about Cabo Delgado.”
He concluded by thanking ACN for its help.
Bishop Sandramo said: “Aid to the Church in Need is a very good friend of Cabo Delgado, Mozambique and Africa.
“It has done so much to help and, thanks to that help, we, as a Church, have also been able to carry out our work, draw closer to its flock and be a tool of evangelisation.
“I want to thank all those who cooperate so that ACN can help needy people all over the world. And may God bless all its benefactors.”