Palma under threat of invasion and SDS on standby
- Total Oil evacuates 500 employees in Afungi
The intensification of insurgent attacks on three villages close to the area where the Mozambique LNG project is underway, including the Afungi peninsula, forced the evacuation of Total workers, who lead the mega gas project in the district of Palma, whose host village since the 2nd of January, it is under threat of invasion by the rebels.
According to the Voice of America (VOA), in face of these scenarios, the oil company Total made the decision to evacuate around 500 of its employees on January 1, while the insurgents distributed pamphlets in which they tell residents to leave Pemba because they are going attack the city, pointing Tuesday (January 5 with reference to attacks).
Security conditions in the province of Cabo Delgado deteriorated with the approach of insurgents, who carried out a series of attacks in villages very close to the gas megaproject, according to reports by residents and local workers.
“The situation still remains (…) the population is suffering, many are going to Palma on foot, we have not yet had the situation settled, we are in a crisis,” a local resident told VOA, describing the desperation of the population, in Monday.
On the night of 1 January (a Friday), insurgents opened fire on members of the Joint Task Force in Quitupo, as they tried to investigate the presence of the rebels in a village house.
Between December 30 and January 1, the Defense and Security Forces (SDS) carried out several clashes with insurgents in the village of Monjane, where 40 houses of the population were destroyed. The clashes provoked a new wave of displaced people to Palma.
“The attack was not in the resettlement area, it was close to Quitupo, they assaulted one of the villages, but with the intervention of the forces, the insurgents were unable to do what they wanted”, said one of the residents of a village near Quitupo.
Quitupo is located within the DUAT (Right to Use and Benefit from Land) area and a few kilometers from the fence where the mega gas projects in Palma are being implemented.
The area has so far been considered one of the safest and where many expected to resort in cases of intensified attacks.
“Quitupo abandoned it. They are not abandoning, they have already abandoned ”, said another resident, telling the story of a woman who arrived in Palma on Monday, after surviving three days in the woods and whose family was already in mourning.
Total evacuates workers
After the series of attacks, Total, which leads the gas megaproject in the Palma district, took the decision to evacuate around 500 of its employees from the LNG Project in Afungi on the 1st of January.
“So I am in Afungi. In fact, a large number of workers were evacuated [on Saturday], especially those linked to the construction area, said a worker on condition of anonymity.
Several local officials were also asked to stay at home in Palma until further notice. Subcontractors linked to the LNG project were given a discretionary mandate to decide whether to evacuate or not, another source said.
Threat under Palma
During the withdrawal of the insurgents, after the sequence of the attacks, the group left leaflets in which they warn that Palma will be attacked on January 5, 2021 (alluding to Tuesday) and advise the population to leave the area.
“When they come across people they are saying ‘you are fleeing to a certain place, we will get there’,” said another resident.
“The war is for real, it’s not what we heard about Mute, Mocímboa da Praia, Pundanhar, no, the real war is here. There is no access to Palma, all roads are blocked, sea or land transport doesn’t happen, we’re sitting alone ”, said a social activist, adding that the crisis has become“ viral ”for the residents of Palma