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Bishop António Juliasse Sandramo of Pemba (ACN)
Mozambique bishop.jpeg
Bishop António Juliasse Sandramo of Pemba (ACN)
World News

‘Parishes are practically destroyed’: Charity commits fresh help after bishop decries latest extremist attacks in Mozambique

by Tola Mbakwe

Christian charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) said it will send  fresh aid to Mozambique following last week’s extremist attacks – with 17,000 people forced to flee Cabo Delgado Province this month alone.

Catholic Bishop António Juliasse Sandramo of Pemba told ACN that parishes and religious orders have been helping internally displaced persons (IDPs) after Islamist group Al Sunnah wa Jama’ah attacked Cabo Delgado’s Ancuabe and Chiure districts after almost a month of relative peace.

ACN said Mozambique’s total number of IDPs now stands at more than 800,000, and more than 4,000 have been killed.

Describing the impact of the attacks, the bishop said: “We have parishes that have been practically destroyed, priests who are living in difficult situations because they had to abandon their missions empty-handed, children, elderly people and others are in great need, and we can’t handle it by ourselves.”

The prelate, who was installed as bishop a month ago, added: “We are in a very confused period, with new attacks spreading to the southern region of the diocese, a lot of panic and a lot of uncertainty.”

ACN, which has been supporting the Church’s programme of pastoral, material and psycho-social support for IDPs – as well as projects to build houses to shelter the displaced and vehicles for missionaries caring for them – has promised more than £145,000 in fresh aid.

The Church is providing help for those made homeless by extremists in northern Mozambique, regardless of their religion.

Bishop António said: “Parishes and religious communities continue to be places of relief.

“They are present when people arrive, they welcome them, offer food, shelter, spiritual assistance and psycho-social support.”

Bishop António made an impassioned plea for the world not to forget the thousands affected by the insurgency in northern Mozambique.

He said: “Cabo Delgado still faces a terrorism problem and needs the presence of the whole world, both with humanitarian aid and in the search for global solutions so that Mozambique can find stability, peace and progress.

“I ask the world to please not forget about Cabo Delgado.”

Meanwhile, earlier this month aid groups said armed groups in Mozambique are increasingly kidnapping children as a warfare tactic, putting victims at risk of sexual violence, early marriage and being used as fighters in the country's worsening conflict.

At least 51 children have been abducted over the last year in violence that has killed thousands and displaced many more in a northern region torn by an Islamist insurgency, but aid workers say the true number of kidnappings could be much higher.

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