Skip to main content
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

A woman rests with her baby at a shelter in Pemba, Mozambique, on April 2, 2021.

ALFREDO ZUNIGA/AFP/Getty Images

Almost one million people face severe hunger in northern Mozambique, where hundreds of thousands have fled Islamist militant attacks, the United Nations food agency said on Tuesday.

Islamic State-linked insurgents last month attacked Palma, a town in Cabo Delgado province next to gas projects under development by companies including Total and Exxon.

The World Food Programme (WFP) said in a briefing in Geneva that 950,000 people are now hungry in Mozambique. It appealed to donors for US$82-million to confront the crisis.

Story continues below advertisement

“Families and individuals have had to abandon their belongings and livelihoods and flee for safety ... adding to an already desperate situation in Northern Mozambique,” WFP spokesman Tomson Phiri said.

The UN Children Fund’s director of emergencies, Manuel Fontaine, told the same briefing: “We are facing both a large and likely long-lasting humanitarian situation.”

The population in some towns had doubled or even tripled as displaced people arrived, he said.

About 690,000 people were already displaced across the country by February. A further 16,500 have since been registered in other areas of Cabo Delgado after fleeing the attack in Palma, the International Organization for Migration said.

Tens of thousands more are still displaced within Palma district or are on the move, the UN humanitarian co-ordination agency, OCHA, said on Monday.

Many fled to a nearby village called Quitunda, built by French energy giant Total to house those displaced by its US$20-billion gas project.

People there have little access to food, no protection and gather in their hundreds at Total’s site every day desperate for evacuation, a witness told Reuters. Total pulled its staff from the site owing to nearby insurgent activity on April 2.

Story continues below advertisement

Total has also suspended operations in the provincial capital of Pemba, a source told Reuters. Total did not immediately provide a comment.

Mozambique’s Centre for Public Integrity said the government had failed to manage the crisis, relying mostly on aid agencies to provide support for those fleeing the violence. Many stayed in war zones as they had no means to reach safer areas, it said.

Authorities are still working to identify 12 beheaded bodies found in Palma after the attack, which both police and army officials said were believed to be foreigners.

Mozambique’s population is mostly Christian. Cabo Delgado is one of only a few provinces that have a Muslim majority.

The country remains one of Africa’s poorest and underdeveloped despite its natural resources, and the Islamist insurgency is a rapidly growing threat after a few years of relative peace following a succession of wars.

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies