The armed conflict in northern Mozambique continued in the first quarter of 2021, generating rising humanitarian needs. The attacks and clashes that began in Palma Town on 24 March, in particular, drove new displacement, with tens of thousands of people fleeing their homes and shelters, including people who were previously displaced from other locations, including Mocimboa da Praia. By the end of March, more than 696,200 people were internally displaced in Cabo Delgado, Niassa and Nampula, around 28,000 more than at the end of 2020.
More than 900,000 people in Cabo Delgado, Niassa and Nampula were facing severe hunger by the end of March. Conflict and repeated displacement interrupted communities’ agricultural activities, destroyed livelihoods and disrupted markets. The main annual harvest, in March, did not translate into a significant improvement in the food security situation across the three northern districts, including due to erratic and significantly below-average rainfall, abnormally high temperatures, and damage from pests like fall armyworm (FAW), particularly in Nampula.
Insecurity, climate shocks and administrative challenges impacted the humanitarian response. The volatility in Palma District hampered humanitarian’s ability to provide assistance in the district, after a slight improvement in access to the area before the attack. In Mueda District, the rainy season impacted access by road and limited the movement of people displacing from conflict affected areas towards Montepuez, as well as the movement of commodities and humanitarian supplies from Pemba. Delays in the issuance of visas remained a major challenge for humanitarian organizations responding to the Cabo Delgado crisis, with 70 visas still pending at the end of March.
The response was also challenged by underfunding. However, humanitarian donors are working to provide additional resources for the response, with additional funding in the pipeline and agreements being finalized between donors and partners.
Despite these difficulties, about 518,000 people received assistance from January to March. About 496,000 people received food assistance across northern Mozambique, more than 106,000 internally displaced people received camp coordination and camp management services, more than 76,000 people received emergency shelter and/or non-food items, over 42,000 people received health services and nearly 36,000 people gained access to safe water.