Maputo — A group of 40 refugees fleeing from the northern Mozambican town of Palma have managed to escape from the terrorist group that had taken them prisoner, according to a report in Monday's issue of the independent newssheet "Mediafax".
After the jihadist attack on Palma town on 24 March, many thousands of the town's residents fled - some of them northwards, to the Tanzanian border, some to the west to Nangade and Mueda districts, while many others attempted to make the hazardous journey to the provincial capital, Pemba.
The 40 who escaped from the terrorists fell into the latter group. They had boarded an artisanal boat in an attempt to make the sea journey from Palma to Pemba. But at Makalokwe island, off the coast of Macomia district, they were intercepted.
The terrorists took them to the coastal area of Pangane, where they were used as slave labour. According to "Mediafax" they managed to escape, when they were supposed to be harvesting cassava, for the meals at the islamist camp.
The group walked for 80 kilometres, until they reached Macomia town. After a brief stay in the Macomia district police command, they were given a lift to Pemba by a local businessman, named only as Abija.
When the refugees, hungry and thirsty, reached Pemba, people of good will offered them water, cakes and soft drinks. No support was forthcoming from the official relief agency, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Institute (INGD).
"Mediafax" also reports that hundreds of refugees from Palma are continuing to cross the Rovuma river to enter Tanzania. The paper's sources say that many of them reached Suavo island in the middle of the river where some were rescued by Tanzania boats.
But the frequency of visits by these vessels has declined, and so the refugees attempt to cross the river and reach the Tanzanian shore by their own means.
But the Tanzanian authorities are still refusing to accept Mozambican refugees. Those who do cross the river are likely to be repatriated via the Negomano border post in Mueda district.