Maputo — The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has pledged to step up its programmes to respond to the humanitarian crisis in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado.
In a statement issued after meeting with Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi in Maputo on Monday, the ICRC chairperson, Peter Maurer said "today the Mozambican people are facing a triple humanitarian crisis with persistent threats due to climate change, the Covid-19 pandemic and the armed conflict. We shall remain beside Mozambique in these difficult times and we shall increase our support".
An ICRC press release said the organisation intends to expand its programmes in 2021, "focusing on assistance, health, and training programmes in the promotion of International Humanitarian Law for those bearing weapons".
The raids by islamist terrorists in Cabo Delgado have led to the displacement of over half a million people from their homes. The ICRC notes that most of them have fled to urban and peri-urban areas, including the province's two main cities, Pemba and Montepuez. This has put pressure on communities, and on medical services.
"Health premises and staff have been victimised twice", said Maurer. "First, by Cyclone Kenneth (in April 2019) and then by the violence that has caused the flight of health professionals and the destruction of more installations, including those that were rehabilitated after the cyclone".
An assessment by ICRC health specialists is that 39 of the 55 health units in the nine Cabo Delgado districts affected by the conflict are no longer operational. Furthermore, 686 health professionals have fled from their workplaces because of lack of security.
The ICRC said that in 2021 it plans to rehabilitate nine primary health centres, which attend to more than 175,400 patients in Pemba. It will also support Montepuez and Pemba hospitals that are specialised in treating traumatic injuries, and continue its assistance to the "Tenth Congress" Covid-19 treatment centre in Pemba.
At the same time, the ICRC will help displaced people to locate members of their families who have disappeared. It will also donate domestic utensils, seeds, tools and fishing kits to help the displaced rebuild their lives.
The release added that the ICRC "will support initiatives to support adequate condition for holding and treating people who have been detained".