Atualizado: 26 de mai. de 2021
Paquitequete -Pemba . IDP arriving by sea from Matemo Island. Photo by Estacio Valoi
Forty four (44) survivors of the seventy four (74) people that were aboard the boat that sank after hitting a rock close to the Matemo Island, disembarked last Saturday at the Paquitequete beach, local Moz24h team established. Among the survivors were the crewmen and citizens on their way to Pemba. The arrival of these survivors thickens the numbers of displaced that reach Pemba fleeing from the terrorist attacks with all they manage to carry.
Some of the survivors that spoke to Moz24h told of how they left Palma to flee from the ‘terrorists’ in a group composed of men, women and children, when they saw their boat sinking between the island of Makalowe, in Macomia District.
The survivors ended up in Matemo Island after being saved by another boat. “The boat was full,” and had to go through “high waves and against the wind,” Issa Tarmamade said to some media.
“Still close to Matemo Island in the Quirimbas Archipelago, the boat ended up striking a rock, which caused the wreckage. We saw bodies floating.”
On their disembark in Paquitequete they were awaited by activists – members of the Kuendeleya group composed of 125 voluntaries based in the village’s commercial harbour and which have been receiving the war-displaced from the first day they started arriving.
It’s thousands of mainly women and children arriving in Paquitequete in the last 15 days, as a result of the most recent attacks enacted by the armed bandits on Macomia District of Quirimbas Archipelago, in villages such as Olumboa, Guludo, Kirimizi, Mucojo, and Ntony.
According to the group, “a total of 300 boats have arrived, 12,000 displaced that we have been looking after. We have provided 150m3 of water, 15,000 breads, 17.000 meals, 30,000 Lt of porridge, 500 mats, 15,000kg of clothes, 7,500kg of hygiene material, 3,200kg of firewood brought in with 25 vehicles.”
While the government authorities’ presence is not felt, at least not as was supposed, some individualities amongst business owners in Cabo Delgado and Nampula and some humanitarian organizations are making the effort to provide the basic needs of those people, many arriving in Pemba with diarrhoea-cholera, dehydrated, while others are taken by the sea, die drowning, hungry or sick.
At Paquitequete beach there are several groups of people with no family, don’t know where to go and still sleeping on the beach sand, under the sky, with an eye and a ear opened and at the will of the high and low tides. When it is high tide, they must sleep standing.
Another group is waiting for assistance so they can go and meet their families in Ancuabe, Monteuez, Niassa or even Nampula, further south. They are waiting for their families to send them money so they can catch a bus or have fuel to put in a boat. Others are waiting for people with good will.
And finally there is the group of people with no families. They have nothing. They don’t no where to go.
Pemba City bursting at the seams
In Paquitequete neighbourhoods – Gingone, Muxara, Mahate – the houses are completely full. During our 3-week visit to the area, we witnessed 40 to 54 people in a house, all from the same family. They need almost everything or everything. “We never receive food, nothing. They came and said they would give us tokens. We went to the post but the ones with tokens are not displaced. We just came back home.” As long as this war carries on, “We cannot go back to our fields, our normal life.”
There are thousands of stories like the one Amade told us. He survived, but saw family members being killed. “My cousin was decapitated and his friend was cut in pieces with machetes. On that first attack in Tanganhane, Macomia headquarters, all on the same day. When they arrived early morning they started shooting. We realized it because they were shooting to everything they saw in front of them. We ran to the bush, my wife to one side and me to the other. We lived in the same area. She was in front and I was in the third house, different houses. They attacked the army barracks, and even some soldiers ended up running away with us to the bush. They took off their uniform, asked for capulanas, dresses, and put their guns in a bag or threw them away. When the attack stopped, we went back to the village. We saw people dead, killed with machetes or bullets. Houses were burned and inside the houses they took everything. We took what we could.”
Others from Macomia fled to Quissanga, Quirimbas, via the sea. But not all arrived in Pemba. Others went through the bush to Pemba, a walk of about 300km.
“Five days we slept in the bush. People without food or water. Children falling, the eldest died. Others died, exhaustion from walking. They arrived. There were three, a red one, another one black and one a military colour, plus a small white aeroplane. The latter was shooting while the helicopters were dropping bombs. The ‘Alshababs’ also took off their uniforms, like the Mozambican soldiers did, and mixed with the population.”
It is estimated that there has been more than 400,000 displaced and more than 2,500 dead, numbers still growing. Many left their lands since this war caused by the so-called ‘alshababs’ started on the 5th of October of 2017 on the North of Cabo Delgado. Some still manage to arrive with a few of their goods, from goats to pots and mattresses, while others come almost empty-handed. Some not even with family members, whose bodies stayed behind deteriorating in the bush or in the sea, where they died.
However, there are those who, on events, take advantage of those who before fleeing the war, in their villages were small businessmen, traders, farmers, today they wait for a kg of flour, without a roof, food, money, on their corpses they are those who walk on taking advantage.
There is yet another group, the vultures group, which profits from the deaths and the suffering of the displaced. The food and other means made available for the displaced of war, the vultures end up distributing among their friends and family or even sell them.
“Many NGOs came to Paquitequete beach. When the food distribution started, the Chief of State was in Pemba City to inaugurate Meto’s power station. But the following day many disappeared, they are not present.” And others “the ones from the State, say that we are feeding bandits. The Secretary of Paquitequete neighbourhood, Luís Salimo, said to the volunteers he received instructions ‘from the top.’”
In Expansão Chuiba neighbourhood, a woman with the surname of Muassumo, the section’s chief, would issue the neighbourhood declarations for the displaced of war, asking in return for part of supplies handed to them by the charity organizations. “We don’t know the lady’s full name, only that her surname is Muassumo, the section’s chief. She took all our declarations for a month and a half and was demanding the few things we were receiving,” said the war-displaced in that neighbourhood.
The tokens and checks attributed by some humanitarian organizations are not channelled to these people. “These tokens, checks, the chiefs give to their friends and family that are not displaced of war and shouldn’t then get the food. Others sell tokens for goods worth 5,000 Meticais. They sell them for 2,000 Meticais. We don’t have food here. There are families of 50, 40, 20... people that never got those foods,” commented some displaced of war.
Mocímboa is in the hands of the “terrorists”
Considering the latest announcements by the Mozambican State, we can assume that Mocímboa da Praia ended up being left in the full control of the “terrorists”
Mocímboa da Praia District, harbour and airport are still in the hands of the “terrorists’” armed groups since the assault of the 23rd of March. However, according to the Mozambican General Police’s Commander, Bernardino Rafael, “There is no Village that has been taken per se, where they live and work. There are villages that, because of the pressure of the attacks, the population has abandoned. Some villages in our country are not in the hands of the terrorists because we enhanced our control.” But by what he added, we deduce that the control is done by using binoculars: "We are not physically in the harbour and Mocímboa da Praia village.”
From the Interior the tone of voice is the same, the voice of Miquidade
The Minister of Interior, Amade Miquidade, in declarations to the media, lamented the situation in the north: “The situation continues complex. War was never a good thing. We just have to look at the number of displaced arriving in Pemba [city], with all the risks.” Amade Miquidade also stressed that “they are assaulting villages to rob supplies for their own logistics.".(Moz24)