UN Refugee Agency in Mozambique Appeals for Help to Deal with DRC Refugees
Displaced people from the region of Chiure, Mozambique, gather on Oct. 24, 2022, around a flat bed truck carrying mattresses and other household items salvaged by fleeing residents after a wave of incursions by armed groups.
MAPUTO, MOZAMBIQUE —
The representative of the U.N. refugee agency in Mozambique said refugees fleeing war-torn parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo are making an already complicated humanitarian crisis in northern Mozambique even worse.
Samuel Chakwera told VOA in an exclusive interview on Wednesday that the agency now needs additional resources to cater to the arriving asylum seekers, on top of already settled refugees and Mozambique’s own internally displaced persons.
“They are coming from Kivu north and Kivu south which is still in conflict as we speak. So, their situation is far from the best solution,” Chakwera said. “We have others integrated, we have quite a few in Maputo, in Beira and Tete.”
Violent clashes between non-state armed groups and government forces periodically drive hundreds of thousands to flee their homes in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, or DRC.
In February alone, according to aid agencies, nearly 300,000 people fled homes across the Rutshuru and Masisi territories in the DRC’s North Kivu province.
Now, small numbers of these people have entered Mozambique’s troubled northern regions where Islamist-linked insurgents are fighting with government troops in oil-rich Cabo Delgado province.
According to the U.N official, Mozambique hosts close to 30,000 refugees and asylum seekers, of which around 9,500 reside in Maratane settlement camp in Nampula province, while the remaining 19,000 reside in urban areas with host families.
The U.N. refugee agency says it works in full coordination with the Mozambican government, responding to lifesaving needs and advancing protection and solutions for forcibly displaced persons.
Chakwera said the increasing number of temporary refugees and asylum seekers from the DRC has strained Mozambique’s resources.
“So we are appealing for more funding from our donors to provide for things like shelter,” Chakwera said. “It’s quite a thing especially given the fact that we need resilient shelter because of the weather conditions. So that is the biggest thing that we are requesting from international partners for support.”
As Mozambique’s low-lying coast is prone to climate-induced disasters, the U.N. also provides emergency assistance in the wake of powerful cyclones that periodically ravage the region.
Powerful Cyclone Freddy struck Mozambique twice in February and in March, leaving behind a trail of damage, killing dozens of people and displacing 250,000 others in the central and northern parts of Mozambique.