Climate change, conflict and COVID-19 increase Cabo Delgado misery

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Civilians continue to flee armed conflict and insecurity in northern Mozambique, over two months after militants attacked coastal city Palma in Cabo Delgado according to UN agencies.

The world body’s refugee agency UNHCR reports 70 000 people fled the city since 24 March bringing overall displacement to the 800 000 mark.

People are exiting daily for districts further south or to neighbouring Tanzania. Thousands more are apparently stranded around Palma with restricted humanitarian access.

“Those fleeing told UNHCR staff the situation remains unstable with gunfire regularly at night and houses torched,” spokesperson Babar Baloch said at a briefing in Geneva.

UNHCR and partners assisted people living in dire conditions in remote areas near the coastal city, distributing relief items to 10 000 displaced people.

The agency continues to advocate for internally displaced people to receive protection and assistance and for those seeking safety in Tanzania access to asylum.

Mozambican authorities report people attempting to cross the river border between the two countries, are forcibly returned.  Over 9000 have been pushed back since January with 900 removals over a two-day period laast week.

The UN Children’s Fund UNICEF said needs are enormous in Cabo Delgado, a region just recovered from a deadly cyclone in 2019.

In the wake of the Palma attack 2 000 children have no idea where their parents are or even if they are alive, agency Spokesperson James Elder said.

“What is happening in Cabo Delgado is a children’s crisis – an emergency on top of an emergency – a deadly cocktail of the impacts of climate change, conflict and COVID-19”, he said.