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Cabo Delgado refugees still live in fear of police and military

People in IDP camps in southern Cabo Delgado resent the presence of soldiers and the military — who forced them to flee their homes in the first place

Displaced people in accommodation centres in Ancuabe district, southern Cabo Delgado, are considering leaving the camps due to the presence of the security and defence forces, who they say were the reason they fled their homelands in the first place.

“We left our land because of these militares, because they don’t respect anyone, including people’s wives,” said one refugee from Nabubusse in Mocímboa da Praia, now living at the Marocane accommodation camp in Ancuabe. ‘Militares’ is a term commonly used in Mozambique for armed personnel belonging either to the military or police.

In the Nanju camp, also in Ancuabe, Adala Abel, who fled her home in Mucojo, Macomia district, said she is scared because she remembers the Cogolo episode, where ‘militares’ killed eight young men who were alleged to be members of the insurgency, despite testimony from the village leader that they were innocent.

What worries Adala is that the militares are camped beside the road she uses every day to get to the field where she grows food — and they don’t hesitate to accuse people of belonging to the insurgency, sometimes because they see you carrying something of value, she told Zitamar.

Blocking humanitarian aid

On the Afungi peninsula those trying to deliver humanitarian aid to thousands of refugees, who are still awaiting evacuation two months after their town was overrun by insurgents and then government forces, also incur the wrath of ‘militares’.

An employee of REEF, a construction company which has turned its hand to delivering basic foods and medicines to the refugees, was threatened by a militar at gunpoint last week near Quitunda, accused of bringing people food and offering free transport to Pemba.

The employee, who is now back in Pemba, told a Zitamar correspondent in the city — who was evacuated from Quitunda thanks to REEF’s intervention — that he would not stop helping the people there, despite the threats.

The militares don’t like REEF’s work there, he said, because the militares like to sell food to the people, and charge high fees to allow them to be evacuated.

This article was produced by Zitamar and Mediafax under the Cabo Ligado project, in collaboration with ACLED. The contents of the article are the sole responsibility of Zitamar News.