Aid workers have warned of a worsening humanitarian crisis in Mozambique amid fears that the annual tropical storm cycle could fuel an already dire situation caused by a four-year-old armed insurgency.
Doctors Without Borders said residents of Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province face an uncertain next few months due to a recent surge in violence that “has displaced thousands of people and left them with precarious access to medical care.”
“To make matters worse, the country – one of the most at risk for extreme weather events – is heading into its annual tropical storm cycle, facing an increased risk of life-threatening disease outbreaks,” the agency said.
The first tropical storm of the season – Tropical Storm Ana – made landfall in Mozambique’s Nampula and Tete provinces on January 24, while another extreme weather event called Storm Batsirai is on its way. Batsirai is expected to be a Category 3 or 4 cyclone and has already torn through Mauritius and Reunion.
Local authorities have reported a surge in violent attacks by insurgents in recent weeks, with more than 20 attacks on four villages since the end of January that resulted in 2,800 homes damaged or destroyed by fire.
Since late January, more than 14,000 people have been forced to leave their homes and are now in search of safety and the basic means of survival.
Doctors Without Borders head of emergency unit Raphael Veicht the violent attacks and ongoing insecurity in several districts of central Cabo Delgado have driven thousands of people from their homes “with nothing but what they can carry at the very moment the cyclone and rainy season is setting in.”
“This is a very dangerous combination. We are extremely concerned about the protection of civilians within this acute and escalating conflict,” Veicht said
Most of the villages where the displaced families are escaping to in search of safety lack the basic infrastructure to sustain so many people, especially clean water, shelter and access to medical care.