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United Nations: Violence forces 70,000 people to flee Mozambique within two months

Armed conflict, violence and insecurity continue to dominate northern Mozambique, causing a high level of displacement, especially in Cabo Delgado province.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that around 70,000 people have fled the city since the end of March, bringing the total displacement to nearly 800,000. UNHCR said people were fleeing daily further south, or to neighboring Tanzania. Thousands more are reported to be stranded in areas around Palma, with humanitarian access restricted.

"The fleeing people told UNHCR staff that the situation in Palma was still very unstable, with gunfire continuing into the night and houses burning," UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch said.

UNHCR and its partners recently assisted people living in appalling conditions in remote areas around Palma, distributing relief items to nearly 10,000 displaced people as UNHCR continues to advocate for the internally displaced to receive protection and assistance, and for those seeking safety in Tanzania , on asylum.

Mozambican authorities reported that many people who tried to cross the river, which borders the two countries, were forcibly returned. With more than 9,600 returns since January, Baloch said: “UNHCR reiterates its call for those fleeing conflict to reach the territory and obtain asylum, in particular respect for the principle of non-refoulement. Refugees must not be forced to return to danger."

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said the needs are enormous in Cabo Delgado, located in an area that has barely recovered from a deadly cyclone in 2019.

In the wake of the Palma attack, around 2,000 children had no idea where their parents were, or even if they were alive, said UNICEF spokesman James Elder in the UN report. "What's happening in Cabo Delgado is a children's crisis - An emergency on top of an emergency – a deadly combination of the effects of climate change, conflict and COVID-19,” saying, “Women and children in particular need safe water and sanitation, as well as nutrition, education, physical and mental care and protection.”

A UNICEF spokesperson warned that many children had suffered profound trauma. If not addressed, it could become a component of a prolonged and protracted crisis that could quickly spread to other areas.” Meanwhile, more than a third of health facilities have been damaged or destroyed, while more than 220 schools and multiple water systems have been attacked. Launching in areas where fighting has intensified.

“What is very frightening is that we do not have the full picture of what is happening to children due to security restrictions and access restrictions,” Elder added, noting that UNICEF is working with the Government of Mozambique and its partners to obtain life-saving supplies and services for children, displaced families and the communities now hosting them.

The agency is also working to strengthen psychosocial support for children, providing special therapeutic foods to at least 33,500 severely malnourished adolescents, among other measures. With needs so high, funding is running out and UNICEF now needs about $90 million to support its operations. .