By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) - Nearly a million people, many of them Christians, face severe hunger in northern Mozambique after Islamist militants drove them from their homes, aid workers confirmed.
“Christians are one of the main targets” of the “savage violence of Islamist militants in northern Mozambique,” said the Christian aid and advocacy group Barnabas Fund.
An organization calling itself Islamic State Central Africa Province (ISCAP), affiliated with the Islamic State group, has claimed some of the attacks in the natural gas-rich region.
The militants are known locally as al-Shabaab (“the youth”), although they have no known links to the extremist group of that name operating in Somalia.
Beheading, skinning, and cutting off the limbs of their victims are the group’s typical methods, Barnabas Fund said. “What they do to the people they capture and kill I have never seen anywhere in Africa,” it quoted an expert in the area as saying.
“It is little wonder northern Mozambique is now called ‘the land of fear,’” the group told Worthy News. “Around three-quarters of a million people are displaced, that is, a third of the population of Cabo Delgado province where the militants operate.”
FLEEING TO BUSH
Some reputedly fled to the bush, while others took boats to the regional capital Pemba and set up makeshift shelters on the beach.
“Some have found shelter with other families – families who have little enough even for themselves in this poor and underdeveloped country. The result is that almost a million people face severe hunger in northern Mozambique, according to the World Food Programme,” Barnabas Fund explained.
The group said it is distributing food through Christian partners in Pemba “to some of the neediest displaced Christians.”
This includes ‘ePap,’ a “porridge containing protein, vitamins, and nutrients to bring health to the malnourished and those trying to survive on rice alone,” the group said.
Aid workers have witnessed massive human misery. “Many walked days to find a place of safety, arriving with swollen and injured feet. Families have often got separated in their hasty departure, sometimes in the middle of the night,” Barnabas Fund added.
“Then there are those still trapped in the war zone because they could not reach safer areas – including many elderly, disabled and sick.”
RAISING MORE SUPPORT
Barnabas Fund said it is raising money among donors to “God willing” send 25 tonnes of ePap from South Africa to Mozambique. That is enough “to provide more than 500,000 daily rations of ePap,” it explained.
“For a typical family of two adults, two older children, and two infants, 250 grams of ePap a day would ensure they all have the nutrients they need.”
Aid workers suggested the need is urgent as violence intensified in recent months in the impoverished African nation of 24-million people.
Militants have stepped up attacks as part of a campaign to establish an Islamist caliphate in the area, according to aid workers and journalists.
The violence has undermined economic efforts by Filipe Nyusi, who was sworn in as president in January 2015 and was inaugurated for a final five-year term in 2020.