Preto & Branco

Insurgents drive people away in Niassa

Niassa province, in the north of the country, is facing internal displacement because of the insurgency that has reached the district of Mecula, which borders Cabo Delgado province.

Extremism in Niassa leads to displacements to safer areas, with the provincial capital, Lichinga, being a preferred place. The marching guides were rescued to rule out insurgent infiltration. But there are reports of kidnappings of suspected merchants and religious leaders.

But a journalist, quoted by the publication “Noticias por Minuto” who asks not to be identified, says that there are other destinations: “They are moving to the districts of Sanga, Mecanhelas and much more to the district of Marrupa, neighboring Mecula, and others are moving to neighboring Tanzania, which borders the district of Mecula”.

Support is guaranteed and suspicions regarding duly documented displaced persons are discarded, a condition that can be equated with a “miracle” in a conflict situation. To this end, a highly restrictive 16-year-old civil war document was rescued – the march guide.

“Those who were transferred to the district of Sanga were welcomed by the secretaries of the neighborhoods and presented to the Government. They came with a [walking] guide, I had the opportunity to see it, signed by the permanent secretary and stamped by the Police of the Republic of Mozambique “, says the journalist.

Abduction of suspects

Although there were no attacks during the festive season, the fear persists. In Mecula, where there is a strong military presence, economic agents and religious leaders who allegedly supported the insurgents have disappeared.

“These were facilitators or strong collaborators of the insurgents. People noticed that they developed quickly in the business, they had more money, even if the business was recent. the goods? So, they are the target of suspicion. On the other side is the Government, our forces are [kidnapping], the suspects are being captured”, suspects the journalist.

Mecula is a district with a strong Muslim presence, a factor that was widely used and manipulated by the insurgents. Once cornered in Cabo Delgado, their main object of attacks, Mecula became a target.

Spread or retreat?

However, specialist in the prevention of violent extremism, Egna Sidumo, understands that it is a case of an escape and not a spread of the insurgency, as has been evaluated.

“It is a way of escaping the pressure of the conflict in Cabo Delgado and not necessarily wanting to establish new areas of influence. This is not a planned spread, it is precisely because there are a greater number of troops in Cabo Delgado. For me, there is a relationship direct: if the troops are unable to remain in Cabo Delgado in the coming months, the situation could get worse”, he argues.

This view is shared by the expert in conflict resolution and public policies, Rufino Sitoe, who understands that this is not an “expansion”, but a “withdrawal” from the group.

“It is a natural response to what they have been suffering, so it is predictable and also worrying in the sense that the group is now covering more regions; it is even more worrying for the Mozambican state. for morale that have the capacity to expand to other regions.”

Since November, Niassa, considered the country’s forgotten province and very vast, has been the target of attacks that have already caused deaths, injuries, kidnappings and destruction. There are reports of the presence of Rwandan forces on the ground, although the Government has never mentioned their deployment to the region.

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