Rampaging gunmen on March 24 launched an attack on the coastal town, Palma in Mozambique, firing indiscriminately, setting fire to buildings and killing dozens of people.

The region has long experienced instability, but the insurgency involving Islamist militants began in 2017. Local al-Shabab militia operating in the area are believed to have links to the wider Islamic state group (IS).

The March 24 attack on the town of Palma, adjacent to gas developments worth $60bn, sent the town’s residents scattering in all directions, with some fleeing into dense forest while others escaped by boat.

The violence has killed more than 2,600 people and uprooted around 750,000 others, according to estimates. Hundreds of others, meanwhile, had crossed into Tanzania by land, only to be sent back later via a different border post. But back in Cabo Delgado, desperation only grows. People have almost no food and no shelter.

People wait for their relatives and friends to arrive in Pemba on 1 April 2021, from the boat of evacuees from the coasts of Palma. More than 1,000 people evacuated from the shores of the town of Palma arrived at the sea port of Pemba after insurgents attacked Palma on 24 March 2021. Picture: Alfredo Zuniga/AFP

The resurgence in violence is deepening the region’s major humanitarian crisis that has been exacerbated by climate-fuelled disasters, sparking warnings that hunger and insecurity in northern Mozambique are reaching the tipping point. 950,000 people in Cabo Delgabo are considered food insecure as a result of climate change. Climate change disrupted agricultural and fishing activities, this was compounded by COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. The Palma attack has made the situation worse.

Displaced women from Palma are seen at the Pemba Sports center on April 2 where people were evacuated from the coasts of Palma after armed insurgents attacked the city on March 24. (Getty Images)

 

Experts fear the attack on Palma could be a precursor to greater instability spreading throughout the restive northern region, making life for civilians even harder.

Despite it’s natural resources, Mozambique remains one of Africa’s poorest countries.

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