The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says it is increasingly worried by the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Cabo Delgado province of Mozambique. More than 800 000 people have been displaced since last year, following a dramatic escalation of the conflict.
This represents over one third of the population of the province, that suffered from poverty and climate shocks even before the increase of armed violence, the ICRC said at the beginning of July.
The attack on the town of Palma in March this year alone caused displacement of over 60 000 people, while thousands are still unaccounted for. Displaced people and communities hosting them face harsh living conditions.
Following recent attacks, many people fled to Nangade, Mueda and the city of Montepuez, putting additional strain on health and water infrastructure supply services in these urban settings. The municipality of Montepuez, for example, has received tens of thousands of people since the beginning of the year, and urban water supply network cannot cope with the increasing needs.
Health facilities in the city also find it increasingly difficult to provide adequate services to the growing population. “We need more trained staff; more nurses and the current structure is not big enough to host all. There are many more patients coming from the conflict zone,” said Jose Antonio Albino, Director of Namweto Hospital, Montepuez.
The situation is even more dramatic on the nearby island archipelagos of Matemo and Quirambo, and on Ibo islands, where displaced people land with nothing but the clothes on their backs after a dangerous sea journey. The hospital on Ibo islands was destroyed by Cyclone Kenneth, so now there is only one health centre serving the whole archipelago and only one doctor, the ICRC said. Accessing health services is even more difficult for people living on the nearby islands, who are often unable to organize and pay for a boat to reach the health centre on Ibo.
In order to respond to the growing humanitarian needs in Cabo Delgado, the ICRC is scaling up its activities in the country and opened a new delegation in Mozambique on 1 July this year. The major priority is to improve access to the essential services, constructing new and rehabilitating existing water and health infrastructure on the mainland and on the islands.
In partnership with the city of Montepuez, the ICRC will contribute to build a new water distribution system to respond to the increased water needs of the city. It is also looking into scaling up its health response in order to offer mental health services to the displaced people, who faced highly traumatizing situations in the course of the conflict.