Crisis Context and Impact
At least 1.5 million people in northern Mozambique will need life-saving and life-sustaining humanitarian assistance and protection in 2022 as a result of the continued impact of armed conflict, violence and insecurity in Cabo Delgado Province. Over the course of 2021, the crisis in Cabo Delgado deepened the needs of both displaced people—many of whom have been forced to flee multiple times—and host communities, who have continued to show incredible solidarity in the face of increasingly stretched resources and services. While some returns of people to areas recaptured by the Government and allied forces is anticipated in 2022, the situation remains volatile. The conflict expanded geographically in the latter months of 2021, including the first verified attacks by non-state armed groups in neighbouring Niassa Province.
More than 735,000 people were estimated to be internally displaced in Mozambique due to the conflict in Cabo Delgado by November 2021—including 663,276 people in Cabo Delgado, 68,951 in Nampula, and 1,604 in Niassa—according to IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) Baseline Assessment Round 14.
Children accounted for 59 per cent of displaced people, while more than half (52 per cent) of displaced people were women and girls. There were more than 7,700 elderly people, nearly 4,200 pregnant women, more than 3,000 unaccompanied children and more than 2,500 people with disabilities among those displaced.
Around 73 per cent of displaced people were staying with family and friends in host communities’ whose already meagre resources were strained tremendously by the growing influxes. Pemba city now hosts more than 150,000 displaced people, on top of the original population of around 224,000 people, putting the city’s health and education services under immense pressure. In Metuge District, the number of displaced people (114,905) is higher than the original population (101,339).
Protection risks remain a grave concern—especially for women and girls, people with disabilities, older persons and people living with HIV/AIDS—with reports of horrific violence against civilians, including killings, beheadings and kidnappings. In 2021, civilians attempting to leave Palma faced a challenging situation. The journey was perilous and expensive, with many people walking for days through the bush to reach safer areas. At the same time, people attempting to seek asylum in Tanzania were refouled to Mozambique, with nearly 10,400 Mozambicans forcibly returned from Tanzania to Mozambique between January and September 2021, according to UNHCR. People impacted by conflict are more likely to be exposed to gender-based violence and child abuse as well as to resort to negative coping mechanisms, including transactional sex, and be exposed to exploitation.
The armed conflict has also heightened food insecurity and malnutrition, with families forced to abandon their homes and fields with erratic rainfall compounding crop losses. In the three northern provinces—Cabo Delgado, Nampula and Niassa—more than 1.1 million people are estimated to be facing high levels of acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 3 or above) during the 2021/2022 lean season (November to March), according to the latest Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) analysis. In a previous analysis of seven southern districts of Cabo Delgado, more than 228,000 people who were either displaced (128,000) or hosting displaced people (101,000) in their households were projected to face severe food insecurity (IPC Phase 3 or above) between April and September 2021.
The analysis covered internally displaced people in five districts—Metuge, Ancuabe, Chiúre, Namuno and Balama—and households hosting internally displaced people in seven districts—Pemba City, Montepuez, Metuge, Ancuabe, Chiúre, Namuno and Balama—and highlighted the severe toll the crisis has taken on host communities.
Essential services across Cabo Delgado have been significantly impacted by the increasing violence.
Nearly half of Cabo Delgado’s health centres (43 out of 88) were closed due to insecurity. The conflict has reportedly resulted in the destruction of 43 schools, 104 classrooms, 30 administrative blocks and 5 buildings of Cabo Delgado’s education services since it began in 2017. In Mocimboa da Praia, widespread destruction of infrastructure—including airports, hospitals, schools, water and electrical systems—was reported in areas retaken by security forces in August.