Refugees International Concerned Over Violence and Displacement in Northern Mozambique

Statement from Refugees International Senior Fellow Sarah Miller and Program Associate Mark Wood:

“Refugees International is alarmed over the surge in extremist violence that is displacing thousands of people in Mozambique’s northern province of Cabo Delgado. Some 100,000 people were displaced in the latest attacks, which included beheadings, abductions, looting, sexual violence, and the burning of homes, churches, and schools. Violence since 2017, which saw some of the worst attacks in 2021 and 2022, displaced nearly 1.3 million million people. While some were able to return home, more than 800,000 remain displaced, some having been displaced multiple times. 

Refugees International recently returned from Mozambique where we met internally displaced people (IDPs) who had just arrived in makeshift sites. Many were still traumatized from having fled just days before, separated from family members and uncertain of what their future would hold. They joined IDP populations that had been there for several years, who were also still struggling with widespread hunger, sexual violence, and a lack of clarity on what help they would receive and if they would be able to return home. Some of the IDP sites are hundreds of kilometers from peoples’ place of origin. Some told Refugees International they are still waiting to be registered so they can obtain assistance. Women and girls in particular continue to bear the brunt of the conflict, having faced sexual violence during their journey and at IDP sites. They lack basic necessities like food, soap, and hygiene items. Services like health and education are difficult to come by.

After a period of relative calm last year, the Islamic-state affiliated group in Cabo Delgado has increased attacks in 2024, devastating villages and generating fear among the population. Aid actors have had to cease operations in some areas, and security experts struggle to predict where new attacks will occur. Violence is also spreading southward to other provinces in Mozambique.

Other parts of the country are still reeling from climate-related disasters, including cyclones that have increased in frequency and intensity. If violence continues to spread southward, it could complicate those aid and development efforts, as well. 

To protect those displaced and to prevent further violence, Mozambique must work with partner countries to scale up humanitarian aid efforts and efforts to protect civilians. Aid actors operating in Cabo Delgado need additional resources to reach newly displaced people, and should increase partnership with local NGOs to better reach IDPs. For its part, the government of Mozambique needs to work with partners to ensure that security is established. With SADC forces already scaling back in preparation of their July departure, the government of Mozambique must scale up its ability to protect civilians. Without these efforts, the population will face more attacks, civilian infrastructure will continue to be targeted, and aid operations will be severely curtailed, threatening the loss of more lives.”

For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact Etant Dupain at

Featured Image: Makeshift shelters for internally displaced people in Cabo Delgabo. Photo by Refugees International.