Refugees in Mozambique: lives marked by poverty, climate change and violence. Sant’Egidio leading efforts to save lives and relieve suffering

Refugees, and displaced people. On the occasion of World Refugee Day, we visit refugee camps in Mozambique, where a human life is tragically marked by poverty, climate change and violence. In these regions, the Community of Sant'Egidio promotes peace, through concrete solidarity and faithful prayer.

The violent attacks in the province of Cabo Delgado. Sant'Egidio aid and response in the large refugee camps

Since 2017, the province of Cabo Delgado - in northernmost Mozambique - has been experiencing violent attacks by Islamic extremists. It is the richest area of natural resources in the country, with large gas fields but, rubies and other precious minerals.
The violent attacks targeting poor villages of farmers or fishermen, as well as causing hundreds of deaths, are also provoking the flight of thousands of women, men and children. It is estimated there are about 200,000 internal refugees seeking safety just outside the city of Pemba, the capital of the province of Cabo Delgado, and in the neighboring province of Nampula.
Together with the diocesan Caritas of Pemba, recently the Community has provided emergency food and hygiene assistance in Metuge - one of the refugee camp near the city, currently hosting 15,000 displaced people. In the next few days aid will also be delivered to two other refugee camps in the province of Nampula: in Namialo and Nacarroa.

Close to climate refugees, in the relocation camps of the cyclone Idai victims

Near the city of Beira there are three relocation camps of the victims of cyclone Idai, which in March 2019 destroyed or damaged 90% of the city’s houses. About 1,500 families are currently hosted in the three camps. Some have been living under tents for over a year and others have built houses of straw and mud. The Community has recently delivered emergency food, hygiene assistance and face masks to some 700 families.

Despite the relative proximity to Beira, some camps are isolated and arise in areas which have been deforested one year ago to make room for newcomers. Since the beginning of the emergency, the Community has made various distributions of food, soap, water disinfectant. More emergency relief distributions will continue in the next few weeks.

Food for children and families in the refugee camp of Maratane

Originally a leper colony and tuberculosis treatment centre, the Maratane refugee camp is now a refugee camp 30 km from Nampula - the largest city in northern Mozambique. Currently hosting 9,000 refugees, mainly from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi, but also from Ethiopia, Somalia and Rwanda.

The Community has been visiting the camp since 2011, the year in which there was a great wave of refugees, mainly from the Horn of Africa, at the time hit by a severe drought. In 2015 it was the turn of refugees from Burundi and the Kivu region in Congo.

Since 2011 the Community offers a weekly lunch to children living in the camp, in addition to the many Mozambican children who live around the camp with their families - between 300 and 350 children all together. Lunch time is also an opportunity to create unique festive moments with children. Due to lockdown this time of relief has been suspended, yet all families keep receiving daily food aid from the Community.

Everyday Food and Survival Kits delivery in Maratane - VIDEO