Fr. Bernardo Suate – Vatican City
The assessment and appeal of Bishop Juliasse were made to Vatican News in light of a recent joint statement that was issued, on the situation of Cabo Delgado, by an Interreligious group of leaders in the area.
The problem of Cabo Delgado has not been solved
Bishop Juliasse reiterated that insecurity and the humanitarian crisis in Cabo Delgado are widespread. He regretted that the situation prevailing on the ground is not making much news in the various media outlets. Unfortunately, he said, “an impression has been created that the problem in Cabo Delgado has been solved, but this is not true,” insisted Bishop Juliasse.
“Cabo Delgado still has 800 000 displaced people.” He continued, “and there is still much movement of displaced persons from insecure areas. There are the newly displaced people who leave their villages in search of secure shelter,” Bishop Juliasse explained.
Explaining the continued insecurity, the Apostolic Administrator of Pemba cited the example of Nova Zambézia, near Macomia, which was attacked on New Year’s Day, 1 January 2022. In that attack, three people were killed, and one person was seriously wounded, said Bishop Juliasse. With the recent attacks, a new group of displaced persons is already on the move seeking secure shelter either from relatives or wherever.
Insecurity is driving displacement
“At the moment, there are displaced persons in all the districts of the central and southern regions of Cabo Delgado Province, and there are also displaced persons in large numbers who are leaving the northern part of neighbouring Niassa province for the central and southern part of Cabo Delgado,” said the Bishop.
“The violence we have experienced as a result of this terrorism has worsened the humanitarian crisis here in Cabo Delgado, adding to the other factors that already existed before, such as poverty, exclusion and the lack of schools in various places – all these factors have been aggravated by this situation of terrorism,” the Prelate said.
Tension in resettlement camps
Bishop Juliasse is worried about reports of tension in some resettlement camps. He called on the people of Cabo Delgado and elsewhere to bear in mind the mystery of Christmas recently celebrated. Jesus, the Prince of Peace, was born in suffering, humility, and poverty.
“While is it true that the suffering we have in Cabo Delgado is great, we must not lose sight of the real problem, of the origins of this conflict by falling into another cycle of violence or by starting new forms of violence,” admonished Bishop Juliasse.
Bishop’s passionate appeal for help
Bishop Juliasse appealed for urgent humanitarian assistance on behalf of Cabo Delgado.
“The humanitarian situation, therefore, remains as it was before, and it is getting worse and worse … It is getting worse because people are starting to starve, and it would seem the World Food Programme (WFP) no longer can provide food for all displaced persons as it initially did. The number of people in need has grown. Similarly, the Diocesan Caritas and the Emergency Fund, while doing their utmost best to help, are struggling. They are now targeting only those who are really in dire situations,” said Bishop Juliasse.
“The message I have as an appeal is: Please do not forget the situation here. Do not leave Cabo Delgado alone to fend for itself. There is need for aid now and not later. Now, before it becomes too late,” said the Apostolic Administrator of Pemba.