Following the attack and clashes in Palma Town and surrounding areas, which began on 24 March, tens of thousands of people were newly displaced in Cabo Delgado Province in northern Mozambique. By the end of April, nearly 31,400 people, including over 380 unaccompanied children and 1,030 elderly people, had arrived by foot, bus, boat and air from Palma to Ancuabe, Balama, Chiure, Namuno, Nampula, Pemba, Mueda and Montepuez districts, according to the International Organization for Migration’s Displacement Tracking Matrix.
Many of those displaced walked or travelled for days through difficult terrain to reach safety and assistance, and more continue to arrive in surrounding districts each day. People who fled the violence have reported violations against civilians, including killing and abduction of loved ones, while many families were separated during the violence. Before the attack on Palma, more than 696,200 people were already internally displaced in northern Mozambique. This represents an increase of around 28,000 people displaced since the end of 2020, according to the International Organization for Migration, driven by the escalating conflict in Cabo Delgado.
Over 900,000 people are projected to face severe hunger in Cabo Delgado, Niassa and Nampula—compared to 950,000 before the harvest—from April to September, according to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis, with food insecurity expected to rise in Cabo Delgado. The conflict and repeated displacement have disrupted livelihoods and markets—including discouraging people from engaging in agricultural activities and displacing fishing communities away from the coast—particularly in the northern districts of Cabo Delgado Province. In addition, the harvest in the coastal and intermediate zone of Cabo Delgado and Nampula provinces is expected to be below average, according to FEWSNET, due to erratic and significantly below-average rainfall, abnormally high temperatures, and damage from pests like fall armyworm (FAW), particularly in Nampula.
Between January and April 2021, there were nearly 3,400 cholera cases and 16 deaths in Cabo Delgado, compared to 2,690 cases and 38 deaths in all of 2020. Chiure, Montepuez, Pemba, Metuge, Ancuabe districts, all of them hosting an increasing number of people displaced, have an active cholera outbreak. In addition, cases of acute watery diarrhoea have been reported in Mecufi District. In Nampula, over 1,370 people contracted cholera and 4 died from the disease in the first quarter of 2021, in Nampula City, Meconta and Moma District. The destruction of health centres, withdrawal of health workers due to the conflict, as well as limited access to water and sanitation services hamper the response to cholera and other critical health care in northern Mozambique.