Red Cross calls for ‘more respect for human rights’ in Cabo Delgado, promises more training
The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Monday called for greater respect for human rights in the armed conflict in Cabo Delgado, northern Mozambique, promising to intensify the training given to military personnel.
Peter Maurer said in an interview with Lusa today at the end of a three-day visit to Mozambique that “we need to have better behaviour” in respecting “international human rights laws and principles”.
He announced a reinforcement of ICRC action this year in Mozambique, mainly focusing on Cabo Delgado, but at the same time stressed that it is necessary to promote respect for universal principles.
“In that sense, we have an important, positive training programme and involvement, particularly with the armed forces,” as part of the objective of “always trying to develop the promotion of human rights with all parties, with those who carry a weapon,” he said.
“We will certainly try to increase these activities in the future,” he added, referring to a “memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Defence, which has already yielded positive results in the past”, and also advanced that the organisation will “increase training activities”.
“I made it very clear today with the President [Filipe Nyusi] that all the tools that the ICRC has developed in the rest of the world about respect for human rights are available to the Mozambican armed forces,” he said, exemplifying with virtual reality and manuals, either for commanders or about cooperation with civilians.
It is a “complex issue” in which “the Red Cross is a specialist and in which it has experience”.
“We have many activities going on [in Mozambique] and now we will try to increase the pace, frequency and do specific training,” he said.
The meeting with Nyusi was part of today’s programme, the last day in Mozambique.
The Mozambican defence and security forces (FDS) have been the target of harsh criticism inside and outside the country after the release of videos, photographs and reports from different organisations on alleged atrocities committed during the armed conflict in Cabo Delgado.
One of the most notorious cases happened in September 2020 when a video showed uniformed men beating a woman who was walking alone, naked, and who they then end up shooting from behind, while she was fleeing, with several bursts of machine gun fire.
The government has always maintained that the images were “fabricated” by insurgents in Cabo Delgado or forces linked to them, but at other times, Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi has admitted there were excesses that had to be investigated.
Armed violence in Mozambique’s northern province, which is home to the largest private multinational investment in Africa, to exploit natural gas, is causing a humanitarian crisis with more than 2,000 deaths and 560,000 people displaced, without housing or food, concentrated mainly in the provincial capital, Pemba.
Some of the incursions have been claimed by the ‘jihadist’ group Islamic State since 2019.