An already precarious humanitarian situation added to increasing conflict has forced over 300 000 people from homes and villages in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province, according to UN agency, the World Food Programme (WFP).
“We are concerned about the unfolding humanitarian situation in Cabo Delgado where conflict and violence have left people without access to food and livelihoods,” Antonella D’Aprile, WFP Mozambique representative said in a statement this week.
“Growing insecurity and poor infrastructure mean reaching out to people in need is harder and with COVID-19 the crisis becomes more complex,” she said.
Latest findings from the famine early warning system (FEWSNET) indicates communities will continue to face “crisis” levels of food insecurity – IPC3 (infection, prevention and control – into at least the early part of next year.
Additional shocks could worsen the situation, especially for women and children, according to the UN agency.
The situation is made more worrisome given Cabo Delgado has the second highest rate of chronic malnutrition in South Africa’s eastern neighbour, with more than half of children under five chronically malnourished. In addition, with the province currently recording the second-highest number of COVID-19 cases in Mozambique, population displacements have potential to accelerate the spread of coronavirus.
WFP needs US$5 million a month to assist internally displaced people in northern Mozambique. It warns without additional funding food rations will be reduced by December.
Operational challenges notwithstanding WFP, in collaboration with government, plans to provide over 300 000 people in Cabo Delgado, Nampula and Niassa provinces with food, vouchers and nutrition support on a monthly basis.
Since 2017, Cabo Delgado has been under attack by non-State armed groups leading to gradual displacement of communities, WFP said. The attacks resulted in deaths and damaged infrastructure, causing disruptions in access by humanitarian agencies to those most in need.
With the latest violence forcing thousands of refugees across the border into Tanzania, concerns over possible regionalisation of the conflict have been raised according to the WFP country representative.