Conflict in Northern Mozambique

The Cabo Delgado province has been grappling with insurgent attacks for three years, and the death toll is now estimated at c. 2,000, including civilians and military personnel. Official data indicates that there are at least 435,000 internally displaced persons due to violence by groups, locally known as al-shabab, who have some sympathy from the Islamic State, which has already claimed several group attacks in the northern and central Cape districts.

30 November 2020   (Reply from the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs - See both letters below)

Dear Fr. Aylward,

On behalf of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Defence, Mr. Simon Coveney T.D., I wish to thank you for your e-mail of 12 November 2020, and the further information you provided on 19 November 2020. The Minister has asked me to respond to your correspondence on his behalf.

The worsening security and humanitarian situation in Cabo Delgado is of grave concern to Ireland.

Mozambique has been a priority partner of Ireland's in sub-Saharan Africa since we began providing post-war development and humanitarian assistance there in 1996. In 2020, Mozambique remains one of the largest bilateral recipients of official development assistance from Ireland, as part of the Irish Aid programme. Through our Embassy in Maputo, we have been closely following the evolving situation in Cabo Delgado since violence commenced in 2017, and I can assure you that we are playing our part to provide urgent humanitarian assistance on the ground, and to engage with the Government of Mozambique in seeking a peaceful and sustainable resolution to the conflict.

Minister Coveney last discussed Mozambique with EU Foreign Ministers at an April 2020 meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council. The Council called for an integrated and coordinated approach to responding to the situation in Cabo Delgado, including by promoting democracy, human rights, effective local governance, restoring the rule of law and addressing the socio-economic conditions that foster instability and violent extremism.

In September 2020, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the situation in Mozambique, calling on the Government to investigate allegations of human rights violations transparently, to protect citizens and to ensure that military interventions promote and protect the basic principles of human rights and international humanitarian law.

That same month, the Government of Mozambique wrote to the EU to formally request additional assistance in responding to the situation in Cabo Delgado. The EU responded positively to this request, confirming last month its commitment to provide additional humanitarian, development and security assistance to the Government of Mozambique. Ireland is currently engaged in discussions with the EU and Member States, in both Brussels and Maputo, about how these additional supports can best be provided, with a particular focus on reaching those furthest behind first, as committed to in Ireland's policy for international development, A Better World.

The needs of those who have been displaced from their homes by violence in Cabo Delgado are of the utmost concern to Ireland. Already in 2020, we are providing €1.8 million in assistance via our United Nations (UN) and non-governmental organisation partners to meet the urgent food, water, health, sanitation and shelter needs of internally displaced persons. We will shortly announce the disbursement of additional funds to the World Food Programme to bolster its humanitarian response efforts in Cabo Delgado at this critical juncture, when the numbers of displaced are rising by the day.

You will also be interested to know of Ireland's role in supporting the ongoing peace process in Mozambique, and in particular our support for the implementation of the 2019 Peace Accord. This support is provided both in the form of technical assistance from a member of the Irish Defence Forces to the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of former combatants, as well as financial assistance from Ireland to the UN-managed Peace Basket Fund, which supports the operation of Mozambique's Peace Process Secretariat.

I wish to thank you again for taking the time to share your experiences of Mozambique and your knowledge of the current situation. I hope that this information will go some way towards reassuring you of Ireland's continued commitment to supporting peace and sustainable development in Mozambique. In the months ahead, we will continue to monitor developments in Cabo Delgado closely, and to work with our EU partners to support efforts to bring about a peaceful and sustainable resolution to the conflict and meet the urgent needs of those worst-affected by the ongoing violence.

Yours sincerely,

Nora Delaney

Private Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs

November 25th 2020

Insurgent attack on the Catholic Mission in late October 2020 in the village of Muambula
The Pastoral Center was destroyed
The Priest’s house and the house of the Lay missionaries were burnt
The Parish Office and the Parish Church were destroyed
The Radio room and Medical centre were ransacked and destroyed.
The Sister’s House was burnt
The Primary school José Allamano was ransacked and destroyed.
The Secondary school was partially damaged.
The House of the Director of the school was burnt
Santa Maria Community House was ransacked and destroyed.
The houses of thousands of the local people’s houses were completely burnt out. 

The national defence and security forces are seeking out the terrorists. According to sources, the insurgents continue to control the host village of Muidumbe and dozens of villages in the district, alongside Mocímboa da Praia, further north. 

And in villages and towns in the district, the manhunt continues. And in one of these operations, 16 terrorists, weapons and property were intercepted and killed. The population around the mission after a week in the bush, began to reach Pemba and the local towns. 

The reports from the local people are dramatic ...
"Father, I ran away from home, I slept 4 days in the lower part of Nampanha waiting for them to leave, and from there I managed to get here Montepuez. But I didn't bring any clothes"
"Good afternoon, Father. My house was burned"
"I have heard that my house was burnt and completely destroyed"
"4 people were beheaded in Mandava"
"24 houses in our village were destroyed".
"My children and I are already in Nampula thanks to God. Only my other daughter, I don't know where she is, because this week she was on March 24th" 

 If you would like to contribute financially to assist the displaced people of the Diocese of Pemba, please feel free to get in touch.

Fr. Eamon will be happy to assist you in any way.  You can write an e/mail to eamonmoz(at)  or write to 27 Northbrook Road, Ranelagh, Dublin 6


November 12th 2020

Cabo Delgado is the name of the most northern coastal province in Mozambique, bordering on the southern border with Tanzania, adjacent to the Indian Ocean. The Province in recent times, has experienced an ongoing conflict instigated by Islamist militants trying to establish an Islamic state in the region.

The seat of government in Mozambique is down south in the capitol city of Maputo, close to the border with Sth Africa and over 2.400 kms away, a 31 hour car ride. There is little doubt but that leaving aside the great distances involved, the government of Mozambique does not have the resources or the know how to combat and put down such a serious threat to their people and sovereignty. It is known that government forces themselves have been responsible for civilian deaths in their attempts to suppress this insurgency. The government have also banned the presence of outside journalists in the conflict zone.

Naturally, the people who have suffered the most from these attacks are civilians. As of November 19th 2020, the Catholic Bishops report that c. 2,000 people have been murdered and almost 500,000 people have been displaced following the actions of the Islamist militiamen that began in October 2017. Civilians also continue to suffer from violence and intimidation, rape and kidnappings, as well as other human rights violations.

While the Islamist influence has its source in extremist developments in Kenya, via Tanzania it seems to be that there is also a strong internal dimension linked to the insurgents since many joining the group were actually recruited locally, not from abroad. This is a result of a lack of economic development in the Province, leaving many young people without adequate education or employment.

Yet the Province itself is rich in natural resources. Cabo Delgado is now home to Africa’s three largest liquid natural gas (LNG) projects: the Mozambique LNG Project (Tota) worth $20bn, Coral FLNG Project (ENI and ExxonMobil) worth $4.7bn, and Rovuma LNG Project (ExxonMobil, ENI and CNPC) worth $30bn. But, despite the billions in investments these contracts have brought, the people of Cabo Delgado are yet to see any benefit from them. In fact, some have already suffered immensely from the arrival of the gas industry leaving many young people disenchanted and open to outside destructive influences.

In the light of recent violence in the Province, I have written the following letter to the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, urging him to encourage his counterparts in Europe to respond to this serious development in Northern Mozambique. I would encourage you to do the same and to contact your government minister or member of Parliament in order to generate publicity to help Mozambique resolve the serious security crisis faced by so many of its citizens.

In Ireland you can email your TD or Senator by using the following email address: Christian Name(dot) This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  eg:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Dear Minister Coveney,
I write to you in your capacity as our Minister for Foreign Affairs. For over a year now, I have become increasingly concerned by the unfortunate developments in Cabo Delgado, the most northern Province of Mozambique, bordering on Tanzania.
Apart from the killings and the displacement of thousands of Mozambicans from their homes, I am particularly concerned these atrocities are hardly of any concern to the Western Media. I am sure that the issue has been addressed at your meetings in Europe, but I have heard of no concrete action emerging as a result.
I am an Irish missionary from Dublin who laboured for 12 years (1993-2005) in the Renamo rebel territory in the Province of Sofala in central Mozambique. In 1993, I was Parish Priest of an area the size of Munster which included Inhaminga, Chupanga, Morromeau & Muanza. I was based in Inhaminga.
While the government of Mozambique is naturally responsible for security within its borders, It is apparent to me from afar, that they just do not have the resources, nor the know how to assist their distressed citizens living in constant fear, facing such rampant violence. The seat of government is down south in Maputo, close to the border with Sth Africa and over 2.400 km away, a 31 hr car ride.
Unless the government of Mozambique is given substantial assistance there is a real danger that what is happening in Cabo Delgado will spread southwards over the whole country. Mozambicans have already suffered too much having had to endure a civil war for almost 20 years, culminating in the first Peace Accord signed in Rome in Oct. 1992.
So please Minister, I would respectfully request that you continue to bring the situation in Cabo Delgado to the attention of your counterparts in Europe and encourage them to reach out to a nation that continues to suffer, that they may be assisted in finding real solutions to the lack of security in their Northern Province.
Sincerely yours,
Fr. Eamon Aylward, sscc

At the time of writing, I have had an acknowledgement from the Department of Foreign Affairs that my message has been received and will be brought to the attention of Minister Coveney. Let us continue to remember the suffering people of Cabo Delgado in our prayers, especially those who lost loved ones and those who have been seriously injured.