Mozambique: Isolated Palma Faces Food Crisis

With no safe overland access, Palma is again facing a food crisis. There were two relief convoys of supply lorries from Mueda to Palma in January, but these have not been repeated. There has been heavy rain making the dirt road impassable, and insurgent activity has been reported and there have been ambushes on the road. Some food arrived by boat from Pemba, but it is not enough.

The two relief convoys on the 200 km road from Mueda to Palma each took three days and two nights, and seemed well run, reports  Pinnacle News  (14 Feb). There were military vehicles at several places within the convoy and helicopters provided air cover. The military says it has set up positions every 4 km along the road. If any vehicle has a breakdown, the whole convoy stops to make repairs. The road is dirt and passage is difficult in the rain, but it is the only road to Nangade, Phudanhar and Palma. Although many people have fled Palma, there is still a substantial population. But the food crisis is growing and some people in Palma are reported to be trying to walk the 90 km to Nangade.

District administrations demand officials return to work :

District administrators of Palma and Nangade, which remain largely cut off, are demanding that civil servants return to work immediately. Many, including teachers, had fled to Pemba. Civil servants claim this is impossible as there are no guarantees of security and villages in both districts continue to be attacked. Palma currently is under a 6 pm military curfew. ( Carta de Mocambique  27 Jan, 3 Feb)

But there is optimism about Palma .

The Australian RBR group and South African owned Projectos Dinamicos are opening a 668 bed camp in the town of Palma for workers at the Afungi LNG project. The first 70 beds were to be open by the end of January and the full 668 by the end of April, at a cost of $4 mn. Prefab units have already arrived in Pemba. (RBG Group 28 Jan )

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