The total number of displaced persons registered after the armed attack on Palma, northern Mozambique, has risen to 20,558, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) announced on Friday in its latest update on the humanitarian crisis.
The total is estimated to be higher, as some people have yet to be registered or are still hiding in remote locations.
“IOM teams in the districts of Nangade, Mueda, Montepuez and Pemba continue to record a significant increase in IDP (internally displaced persons) arrivals since 27 March,” the document said.
Today 637 IDPs were identified in the four districts “bringing the total number to 20,558 people”, IOM detailed.
Children represent 43% of the total and there are 272 who are alone, separated from their families during the flight.
The victims of the violence, forced to abandon their land, continue to arrive in Nangade on foot, and then travel by bus to Mueda, Montepuez and Pemba.
The corridor that runs from Palma westwards via Nangade and then south-westwards to Mueda and Montepuez continues to be the main axis of escape from the district attacked on 24 March in Cabo Delgado.
According to IOM, 75% of the displaced are staying with host families and there are 664 registered elderly people.
Armed groups have terrorised Cabo Delgado since 2017, with some attacks being claimed by the ‘jihadist ‘ Islamic State group, in a wave of violence that has led to more than 2,500 deaths and 700,000 displaced people.
The most recent attack was carried out on 24 March against the town of Palma, causing dozens of deaths and injuries, in a balance sheet that is still ongoing.
The Mozambican authorities regained control of the town, but the attack led oil company Total to abandon indefinitely the site of the gas project scheduled to start production in 2024 and on which many of Mozambique’s economic growth expectations for the next decade are anchored.