Mozambique peacebuilding efforts extend to GBV

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Efforts by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to restore some semblance of normal life in northern Mozambique include assisting people displaced by conflict even as attacks continue in Cabo Delgado.

The northern province of the east African country has been in the crosshairs of Al-Sunna Wa-Jama’ah (ASWJ) since 2017 opposed initially only by Mozambique’s armed forces (Forças Armadas de Defesa de Moçambique), better known by the acronym FADM. A SADC force, deployed as SAMIM (SADC Mission in Mozambique) has been on the ground for over a year with a thousand-strong contingent of Rwandan military also taking the fight to the Islamists. Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Lesotho, Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia are SADC countries currently contributing troops and materiel to the regional bloc mission.

That violence is ongoing comes from conflict observatory Cabo Ligado (Connected cape) by way of weekly and monthly reports. For the mid-July period the observatory notes northern Macomia (in Cabo Delgado province) “was again the focus of insurgent violence”. An attack on Nkoe village left five wounded and 100 houses destroyed. The village has been subjected to repeated attacks recently according to Cabo Ligado.

SADC’s peacebuilding efforts underway since the start of July include liaison with various departments, including correctional services, and community leaders to establish trust and confidence in each other.

To this can now be added helping people displaced by conflict.

A communique from the Botswana headquartered regional bloc has it internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Mozambique are being empowered with skills and knowledge to prevent and combat gender-based violence (GBV), prevention and elimination of traditional harmful practices and national policies and laws on GBV, among others.

The IDP empowerment is a component of the SADC peacebuilding foundation its ERM (early response mechanism).

ERM training is part of SADC peacebuilding support to Mozambique. The project is implemented under the Africa Peace Facility with financial support from the European Union (EU). It seeks to “pacify the security situation in Cabo Delgado which continues to be relatively calm but unpredictable due to the threat posed by terrorist activities”.

Thirty participants from Ancuabe, Ingonane, Macomia, Mocimba da Praia, Muidumbe, Nangade, Palma, Pemba and Quissanga districts attended the IDP training. Among subjects covered were gender roles and stereotyping; value clarifications and cultural practices; gender mainstreaming and its importance; as well as international, regional and national commitments on gender equality. Training also looked at the general situation of women in Cabo Delgado; gender inequality in agriculture, education and health; government policies and laws on gender; and balanced participation of women and men in public decision making.

Participants related personal testimonies on what happens in their communities and how lives are affected by issues discussed. Others shared personal experiences of how they suffered from GBV and felt they could have helped survivors if they had the information acquired during the workshop.

It was recommended training be sustained in districts when the situation is calm so more participants can attend. Another recommendation was for SAMIM to engage United Nations (UN) agencies and other stakeholders in Cabo Delgado to help establish one-stop centres for GBV survivors.