Mozambique: Kidnap victims blackmailed after being released
Arrival of internally displaced people from Palma at Pemba airport, Mozambique, 9th April 2021. [Photo: Lusa]
Fátima Amade arrived in Pemba, northern Mozambique, on Friday, visibly exhausted and not knowing what to do, but certain she did not want to return to Palma, a city ravaged by hunger and the odour of death.
“Nobody is doing well in Palma. The situation there is not good yet, it still smells of people who died, we are not safe in Palma,” Fátima, 26, accompanied by her son and niece, both minors, told Lusa.
Fátima Amade was part of a group of about 15 displaced people, some of them children, who arrived at Pemba Airport at 10:40 am on Friday. Upon exiting the plane, one man threw himself on the ground with outstretched arms, as if he finally felt safe.
The team of volunteers who received them hurried to find a translator who could explain to a woman who only spoke Swahili, and who was struggling with the whole scenario, what life would be like from now on.
Fátima was very tired and said that she left her husband, her sister and her brother behind, “all with children”. She still has family members in Pemba, but has not been able to reach them because her cell phone is out of charge.
She was at work on March 24, the day the ‘jihadists’ invaded Palma, when she received a call informing her that insurgents had entered the city.
That day she stayed in the yard of her house watching the arrival of the ‘jihadists’. They came to where she was, “took a car and left”. However, the situation worsened the next day.
“Those guys came into the yard and we went out of the door. We walked all night. We suffered a lot, without food, without anything. Still we are not safe, we are bad, the population of Palma. We have nothing to eat,” she said.
Fátima and her family spent three days hidden in the forest, eating the cassava and watermelon they found.
She told Lusa that a colleague was killed while she was watching events unfold from her yard.
“Only I left [Palma]. My whole family is still at the gate [near Afungi airstrip]. I am not going to live easily after leaving the family there, the children… .”
Fátima Amade’s account chimes with that of 19-year-old Amina Maro, who arrived in Pemba on the same humanitarian flight, clutching her one-year-old son.
She spent a day in the woods with her husband and son, also without eating. Then they hid at a school in a nearby village.
In Pemba, Amina Amaro thinks about continuing her studies and going to university, to become a teacher.
The violence unleashed more than three years ago in the province of Cabo Delgado escalated still further two weeks ago, when armed groups first attacked the village of Palma, about six kilometres from the multimillion-dollar natural gas projects.