Maputo — Survivors of the terrorist attack against the town of Palma, in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado, were offered no sanctuary in Tanzania, according to a report in Wednesday's issue of the independent daily "O Pais".
Hundreds of Mozambicans fled across the Rovuma river into Tanzania, but far from receiving a sympathetic welcome, they were simply returned to Mozambique, and found themselves waiting for rescue at the Negomano border post in Mueda district.
"Lots of people who left Palma are in Negomano, and they have no way of leaving since they don't have the money to pay the bus fare from Negomano to Mueda", according to Afate Alfane, one of the survivors who made his own way to the Cabo Delgado provincial capital, Pemba.
He told the paper he had fled from Palma northwards, and at Namoto "we crossed the Rovuma into Tanzania. As soon as we arrived we were received by soldiers, who took us to the city of Mwara. The following day that took us to Negomano".
Alfane had enough money to reach Mueda. From there, he depended on the good will of people who did not charge him for the over 500 kilometre journey to Pemba.
Another survivor, Andauila Issa, said "When we reached Tanzania, the soldiers only received those displaced people who were natives of Tanzania, and all the Mozambicans were taken to Negomano".
She then took lifts to Mueda, then to Montepuez, and finally to Pemba. She said she had paid 1,500 meticais for her family to reach Pemba.
Survivors from the Palma attack are taken to a transit centre in Pemba, managed by the local Mozambican authorities.
In addition to the survivors stranded at Negomano, thousands of others who fled from Palma are currently in the Afungi Peninsula, about 15 kilometres from the town, and in Quitunda, a town created to resettle people moved from their original homes to make way for natural gas liquefaction plants, to be built by a consortium headed by the French oil and gas company Total.
Now that the Mozambican armed forces have expelled the terrorists from Palma, it may be possible for these people to return to their homes in the town. Their immediate concern, however, is with food. When journalists, Mozambican and foreign, visited the displaced people in Quitunda on Sunday, their main complaint was that they are hungry.