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Attack in the village of Mucojo in Cabo Delgado (2018)
In Mozambique, the Rural Observatory [full document in Portuguese, PDF available HERE] points to poverty as one of the possible causes of the armed attacks in Cabo Delgado, recommending dialogue and social inclusion policies to combat the violence.
The northern province of Cabo Delgado has been the target of unclaimed armed attacks since October 2017, Deutsche Welle reports. The attacks have so far killed at least two hundred people, some by beheading, displaced thousands and left hundreds of homes burned to the ground.
The Rural Observatory has carried out a study of the phenomenon affecting several districts of Cabo Delgado, the province where one of the largest-ever natural gas projects is located.
Researcher João Feijó, one of the study’s authors, told DW Africa that, in Cabo Delgado, conditions for violent tensions were present.
“Firstly, poverty, which have been going on for many years. But then, over the last 10 years, there has been a great euphoria around the exploitation of natural resources,” Feijó explains. “These discoveries have caused many people to head for Cabo Delgado. Social inequalities have increased; some people have gained from it, but there has been a lot of pressure on land and most of the local people have not benefited from it.”
“Very high expectations were created at a very early stage. People thought all that was going to happen in the short term, but it wasn’t,” he points out.
João Feijó also points to the prevalence of ethnic and linguistic inequalities. The area where the attacks are reported is predominantly inhabited by the Mwani, a group that considers itself the victim of stigmatisation.
Feijó also cites the existence of hyper-radical and hyper-extremist Islamic movements which use fanatical interpretations of the Koran, the existence of young people who had studied in the Persian Gulf but did not find a place in the local mosques when they came back, and conflicts between various factions claiming Quranic authority.
Commenting last week on the armed attacks in Cabo Delgado, Mozambican Deputy Attorney General Amabélia Chuquela said there were signs and indications that could lead to us saying, perhaps, that we are facing terrorism or violent extremism.
“We can only resolve the Cabo Delgado issue if we also start thinking about investing in the bodies responsible for the investigation, prosecution and trial of these cases here on the ground,” Chuquela says.
Institutional strengthening of organisations related to criminal investigation and justice is also one of the recommendations of the Rural Observatory study, which also argues that it is important to rethink the strategy of focusing on a single, military solution. “I think the military route could create even more resentment among the population,” Feijó says.
“I believe this implies negotiations, it implies a positive reinforcement of this population towards social inclusion, employment policies, training policies, education. So there needs to be a lot of investment in that area. I also believe there needs to be an amnesty, for these people to hand over their weapons.”
For her part, Deputy Attorney General, Amabélia Chuquela, warns that “if we are unable to control it in time, and do not invest wisely in prevention and repression, this phenomenon could spread to other province”.
Feijó agrees. “Up to the high Zambézia [province] we find a strip that has similar characteristics to the north of mostly Islamic Cabo Delgado: great poverty, emergence of social inequalities, the presence of large investments in both extractive industries and tourism. Therefore, there are conditions [for the violence] to spread south ,” he says.
The Rural Observatory study recommends, among other measures, the deepening of multidisciplinary research on armed insurgency, the promotion of social inclusion policies, more emphasis on local traditions of tolerance, the search for regional solutions, and the monitoring of religious organisation financing and money laundering.Source: Deutsche Welle