Dear prayer partners,

On Thursday 29 October, a boat carrying at least 70 people – fleeing the extreme violence in Cabo Delgado – sank in the Indian Ocean north of the regional capital of Pemba in Mozambique, more than 40 are feared dead. The UN International Organisation for Migration (IOM) reported that thousands of people have sought refuge from a three-year-long Islamist insurgency, and in the past three weeks, more than 13,000 people have fled on more than 270 boats destined for Pemba.

The insurgency began in October 2017 and has affected many districts in the resource-rich northern province of Cabo Delgado. Various groups have carried out more than 660 attacks since 2017. Fighting between the groups and government forces have left more than 2,000 civilians dead. The ongoing fighting has also resulted in more than 400,000 people being displaced and leaving over 710,000 people needing emergency assistance. The insurgents have committed many atrocities, including beheadings, torching villages, executions, looting, and destruction of infrastructure, such as schools and health centres. The government has struggled to contain the conflict, and insurgents are now in control of a strategic port close to Mozambique’s natural gas fields. A significant shortage of supplies has also resulted in a dramatic increase in prices, which makes it difficult for the population to meet their daily needs.

There is concern that the Mozambican government’s predominantly military response is inadequate, and that the underlying socio-economic problems that plague northern Mozambique need to be urgently addressed in a more holistic manner. According to Defence Web: “Geographically, the Zambezi river separates northern and southern Mozambique. Around 19% of Mozambicans identify as Muslim while there is a majority (54%) Muslim population in Cabo Delgado. Poverty in the north is relatively high at 55.1% (2014) compared to the south at 32.8%. This has caused different trajectories for Mozambicans depending on the divides they fall into.”

Mozambique is home to about 31 million people of which 52.9% of the population profess to be Christian. Estimates about adherents of Islam in Mozambique vary between 17% and 19% of the total population. A local Bishop of the Diocese of Pemba, Luiz Fernando Lisboa, said in an interview: “The war has destabilised not only our region, but all of Mozambique and the Church’s role is to help victims, going first to the most vulnerable. But we must also speak out!”

Please join with us in praying for Mozambique.

“Prayer is the helpless and needy child crying to the compassion of the Father’s heart and the bounty and power of a Father’s hand.” (E. M. Bounds)