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06/16/2023 Mozambique (International Christian Concern)In refugee camps around the world, women often turn to prostitution to feed their families. Sadly, this is the case in Cabo Delgado, the northeastern part of Mozambique that has been plagued by a violent insurgency in recent years.  

In an article written by Crux news source, Johan Viljoen, Director of the Catholic charity foundation, explains the heartache he has seen in this area.  

“In this particular case, [prostitution] is conducted in IDP camps and settlements, in exchange for food or other forms of humanitarian assistance,” Viljoen told Crux. “In one place we visited in December 2019, we were told that between 7 and ten people are buried every week who died of starvation. In another place, we saw women cutting grass at the side of the road, to take home and boil to feed their families.” 

Much of the violence in Mozambique has been attributed to the ISIS-affiliated Islamist group al-Sunnah wa Jama’ah (ASJ), also known as ISIS-Mozambique (IS-M), which emerged in 2017. ASJ is thought to be responsible for more than 3,100 deaths and the displacement of more than 800,000 people. In Christian-majority Mozambique, ASJ seeks to establish a caliphate and drive out any other faith.  

Hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people live in camps and churches. Schools have been burned as villages are attacked, and drug cartels continue to add violence to the ongoing extremism. 

Crux reports that due to limited funding, the World Food Program has suspended food aid to people displaced by terrorist attacks in northern Mozambique. While Mozambican President Philipe Nyusi has implied stability in the Cabo Delgado region, Viljoen told Crux that his assessment is wrong. 

“The clearest indication would be when internally displaced persons [voluntarily] return to their places of origin,” he said. “In December, the UN and WFP ceased all humanitarian assistance in IDP camps, citing a lack of funds. IDPs saw this as a means of pressuring them to return. Large numbers did, fearing starvation if they stayed in the settlements without food. Many have since returned to the settlements, saying that the conditions in Cabo Delgado were bad.”  

According to an article published by the UN in October 2022, over one million people have fled the Cabo Delgado province, where most of the violence is concentrated.  

A UN official reported“People have witnessed their loved ones being killed, beheaded, and raped, and their houses and other infrastructure burned to the ground. Men and boys have also been forcibly enrolled in armed groups. Livelihoods have been lost, and education stalled while access to necessities such as food and healthcare has been hampered. Many people have been re-traumatized after being forced to move multiple times to save their lives.” 

Please pray for the ongoing conflict in Mozambique and the vulnerable women and children who are being exploited.

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