Maputo — No land is available in the city of Pemba, capital of the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado, to build accommodation centres for any more displaced people, according to the city's mayor, Florete Motarua, cited in Wednesday's issue of the Maputo daily "Noticias".
Pemba has acted as a magnet for people fleeing from islamist terrorist attacks in districts further north. Motarua said that from 16 October until Tuesday, 9,659 people, mostly women and children, arrived in Pemba, escaping from the districts of Mocimboa da Praia, Macomia and Quissanga.
They arrived in boats on the beach of the Pemba neighbourhood of Paquitequete, where a transit centre for displaced people has been set up. Some of the displaced have found accommodation in the homes of relatives or friends.
Motarua said the sheer number of displaced people arriving on the beach had taken the municipal authorities by surprise. The situation had been controlled, he said, thanks to the cooperation of the local health authorities, the defence and security forces, Pemba business people and civil society organisations.
Motarua added that all the displaced go through medical screening to assess the medical state of each of them. Many of them are suffering from diarrhoea and general weakness after the long journey at sea. Food aid is now guaranteed for all of them.
According to the last population census, held in 2017, Pemba had a population of slightly more than 200,000. But Motarua believed the population is now more than 300,000, because people have been making their way to the city, ever since the start of the terrorist raids in October 2017.
He ruled out building accommodation centres for displaced people in the city because there was no space available. The displaced would thus have to be moved to other districts or provinces.
Motarua said "We have displaced people at Paquitequete who have expressed an interest in moving on to Nampula province. Others will be sent to Montepuez, Ancuabe and Mecufi districts".
A report in Wednesday's issue of the independent newssheet "Carta de Mocambique" claimed that the police have banned citizens from taking photographs of displaced people arriving at Paquitequete.
If true, this police behaviour is completely illegal. The police have no power to prevent citizens from taking photographs in public places such as beaches.