The Catholic Church has launched a peace initiative in northern Mozambique in the hope of ending the ongoing violence, which has left almost one million displaced.
A military insurgency began in 2017 in the Cabo Delgado region, resulting in more than 4,000 deaths to date.
Instead of armed forces, the Mozambique Episcopal Conference has been pleading with overseas agencies to get involved in urgently needed dialogue instead.
Church leaders are hopeful that the widespread presence of the church across both urban and rural areas of the country will help advance peace talks, even in remote locations.
The initiative is being overseen by Father Eduardo Roca, a local parish priest and partner to Christian humanitarian charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).
ACN will be involved in building new community centres and providing vehicles for those working with displaced people to provide better missionary work.
Father Roca told ACN: “The Catholic Church is not only concerned, it is engaged and seriously committed to do whatever it can for the peace negotiations.”
He explained that this commitment already exists “at the religious level, but also at the academic level and among the local communities”.
Father Roca said events planned for the coming months include “meetings with some 50 leaders of Muslim and Christian organisations to study and promote the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together, signed by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar in Abu Dhabi”.
He added: “We are encouraging parish priests to create interreligious groups, and we are providing training in all the northern districts to promote interreligious dialogue and create bridges for people to meet and talk to each other in safety.”