It has been four years, the humanitarian crisis in Mozambique lingers on as villages, towns in Cabo Delgado see ruins of buildings, thousands of deaths, and millions of refugees from the Northern region of Mozambique still face food shortages and displacement issues.
Where is Mozambique?
Mozambique is a country located in South East Africa, borders Tanzania, Zambia, South Africa. To the east, the coastline of Indian Ocean serves as the natural barrier to the country. Even though the country has ample natural resources, today, Mozambique is still one of the poorest nations in the world.
Poverty stats for Mozambique
As shown in a BBC report from 2020, two-thirds of Mozambique’s 31 million inhabitants still reside in rural areas, and more than 24 million people live below the poverty line.
According to Opportunity International, a global nonprofit organization that targets poverty issues, 62% of people lived on less than $1.90 per day in 2019, while just 52% of children completed primary school and 33% of adults had a financial institution account.
What is the cause of the current crisis?
It is not a coincidence that the root cause of poverty in Mozambique starts with a history of economic mismanagement from socialist policies and a 20-year bloody civil war that results in further impoverishment of the country. Civil conflicts may have come to the end in recent decades. However, in 2017, the renewed Islamic insurgency near the northern gas-rich provinces of Cabo Delgado presents a new challenge to the country. Critical infrastructures have been destroyed as a result of the Islamist militants’ insurgency, which has resulted in supply interruptions, civilian losses, and an influx of refugees that continues to this day.
How does the pandemic present new challenges?
The crisis has become worse during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, as shortage of vaccination and various climate disasters stall the country’s economic recovery. In particular, supply chains have become exacerbated during the pandemic with many parts of the country remain shut down. The further lagging of logistics due to terrorist attacks from Islamic militants means greater fluctuation of commodity prices and food insecurities for a large number of displaced refugees who already encountered losses of homes and family members.
The timeline of ongoing effort to provide help
Amid the crisis, various nations across the globe have responded with emergency relief funding and supplies to aid the Government of Mozambique and its people.
According to a press release on May 6th, 2021 from the U.S. Department of State, the United States government through various international agencies has provided over 2,000 rolls of plastic sheeting, 8,000 shelter kits, and other kitchen appliances for roughly 20,000 families so far. In addition, the United States, through the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, plans to provide $700,000 for the fiscal year of 2021 on humanitarian assistance to the UN Refugee Agency. Together, this represents over $82 million in funding from the US to assist the humanitarian crisis in Mozambique since 2020.
The European Union has also been advocating for greater access to humanitarian assistance to Mozambique in recent years. Since the beginning of 2021, the EU summoned over € 17 million for humanitarian aid to Mozambique.
Africa nations proposed a military solution back in July to stop the insurgency in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province as Mozambique’s domestic forces are often poorly trained and equipped for combat. In August, Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi agreed to a deal on foreign troops to be deployed and assist domestic military forces to fight against the Islamist insurgency.
Since then, a 1000-strong Rwandan force has hit the ground and continues to clear the militant’s attack in Cabo Delgado. As foreign soldiers continue to expand their presence in northern Mozambique, the question that remains is whether extended foreign military participation will exacerbate the region’s local and religious conflicts.
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