Save the Children International (SCI) has revealed nearly 30,000 children fled an escalating wave of conflict in Cabo Delgado province in Mozambique in June, the highest number of children displaced in a month in the past year.
Since 2017, an Islamist insurgency group, al-Shabaab, has terrorised Mozambique’s Northern province of Cabo Delgado, which has led to the displacement of 784,564 people, including about 370,000 children.
The group has committed horrendous acts like beheadings, abducting children, and destroying schools and hospitals, leading to a humanitarian disaster.
During the renewed violence across the Northern province, SCI stated that at least 53 people were killed in the districts of Ancuabe, Metuge, Mecufi, Meluco, Chiure and Nampula, forcing more than 50,000 people – 55 per cent of whom were children – to flee their homes.
The child rights organisation said it was particularly concerned that this latest spike in violence had disrupted humanitarian assistance, including mental health support for children who have experienced horrific violence and providing essential services like food, water and shelter for displaced communities.
Brechtje van Lith, Save the Children’s Country Director in Mozambique, said those fleeing the violence are running out of options for safe shelters.
“And yet this is not the first time they are going through this,” Lith said.
“We are worried about the long-term mental health implications on children and how the continual movement harms their parents’ mental health as well. So many of them have lost loved ones or witnessed horrors that no child or adult should ever need to see.”
Data from Save the Children showed that at least 11 schools were shut down in June, leaving more than 5,747 students in Ancuabe, Chiure, Mecufi and Meluco without education.
“We are providing the support we can, but with the situation rapidly evolving, needs are growing, humanitarian aid is minimal at best, and we fear many children are going without essential services,” Lith said.
Apart from displacement taking a devastating toll on children, Save the Children also reported that due to the surge in conflict, young girls were married off to lighten the weight of migration.
“Cabo Delgado was already the worst place in Mozambique to be a child before this conflict began; now, with massive displacement and horrific abuses, things are much worse. Girls are particularly vulnerable and are being married off at an alarmingly high rate,” Inger Ashing, CEO of Save the Children International, said.
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