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The building of the District Government in Mocimboa da Praia town. [Photo: Twitter / @UNDPMozambique]
Civil servants and community leaders have returned to the headquarters town of Mocímboa da Praia district in northern Mozambique, seven months after it was retaken from rebel control, the governor of Cabo Delgado province said today.
“As of March 28, 45 community leaders and 100 municipal and state officials were already in the main town of Mocímboa da Praia,” Governor Valige Tauabo told the Provincial Assembly of Cabo Delgado in Pemba, the provincial capital.
Without providing exact figures, Governor Tauabo said that Palma, Quissanga and Macomia districts, also affected by armed violence, had likewise been seeing the return of state officials and community leaders following signs of improvements in security.
Governor Tauabo said that the state employees who had returned to the district headquarters of Mocímboa da Praia were evaluating the security conditions and assessing the needs for the reopening of social services so as to create a favourable environment for the return of the population.
“These [who have returned] are better able to assess the creation of basic services and security and then invite others” to come back, he said.
Of all the district headquarters affected by armed violence, Mocímboa da Praia was held longest by the insurgents, having been occupied for more than a year prior to its recovery last August, in a joint operation between Mozambican and Rwandan forces.
The coastal town, where armed groups carried out their first attack in October, 2017, had long been described as the rebels’ “base”.
Mocímboa da Praia is located 70 kilometres south of the construction area of the natural gas exploitation project, in Afungi, Palma district.
Resident Representative of @UNDPMozambique 🇲🇿, Narjess Saidane, with the team at work in #MocímboadaPraia, #CaboDelgado. Business as usual is not an option.#Stabilization #Mozambique 🇲🇿 pic.twitter.com/DUzYSu5J9w
— UNDP in Mozambique (@UNDPMozambique) March 29, 2022
Cabo Delgado province is rich in natural gas, but has been terrorised since 2017 by armed rebels, with some attacks claimed by the Islamic State extremist group.
According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), 784,000 people have been internally displaced by the conflict, which has cost around 4,000 lives, according to the ACLED Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project.
Since July 2021, an offensive by government troops, with the support of Rwanda, later joined by troops from the Southern African Development Community (SADC), has recovered areas where there was a presence of rebels, but their flight has led to attacks in other districts used as escape routes or for temporary refuge.