Two little boys and an adult hanged on the same tree - probably a family, who died together at the hands of one of the most savage terrorist groups currently operating in our world. In life, this little family were so poor that the older brother, aged about five, has several holes in his worn-out shorts. In death, they do not have even the dignity of a grave, but are left dangling among the branches.
This is Mozambique’s far north, nowadays known as the “land of fear”. It is a Muslim-majority area in a Christian-majority country, where an Islamist group has launched at least 769 attacks since 2017, killing over 2,500 people. The group’s hallmark is beheading and cutting their victims into pieces. Their targets are Christians, moderate Muslims, the government and anyone else who rejects the jihadists’ ideology. Perhaps the little family in the tree should be counted fortunate they were not chopped up.
Half a million displaced
Half a million Mozambicans have fled their homes, trying to escape the violence, which peaked in the last months of 2020. January 2021 saw fewer attacks, perhaps because the insurgents were beginning to exhaust their supplies of stolen ammunition.
Many of the displaced are crammed on to a beach in Pemba, the provincial capital, living in makeshift shelters and begging for food from passers-by. They are malnourished, malaria and cholera are spreading amongst them, and the children are severely traumatised by the brutal violence they have witnessed.
Back in the rural areas from which they fled, their homes have been burned, their farms are left untended, a third of the health facilities are damaged or destroyed, and no one knows how many of the remaining civilian population perished last month when the insurgents used them as human shields against a government offensive. Until the beginning of this year, food was arriving from Tanzania by boat, through the mangrove swamps, but then the jihadists cut the supply lines, bringing the real possibility of starvation.
Unreported but true
Barnabas Fund has been reporting this situation since May 2020, although little world attention has been given. International journalists are banned and local ones have been intimidated, with two held for months in a military prison. But Sky News are now showing it on TV.
Battered by storms and cyclones, struggling with coronavirus, the UN calls the situation in Mozambique “a perfect storm of instability”.
Help our brothers and sisters
Our local project partners can get food to our hungry brothers and sisters.
Will you help us to keep on feeding the survivors of the violence? Prices are fluctuating in this unstable situation but approximate costs are:
10 kg of beans cost £7 ($9; €8)
50 kg of maize cost £14 ($18; €16)
50 kg or rice cost £21 ($27; €24)