Mozambique – Attacks In Palma District, Flash Update No.3 (Last updated: 31 Mar 2021)

Situation Report
Originally published



More than 8,100 people who fled the violence in Palma have arrived in Nangade, Mueda, Montepuez and Pemba districts since 24 March.

Many more people remain displaced inside of Palma—including thousands who have reportedly gathered near the Afungi complex— where the security situation remains volatile.

Despite immense challenges, humanitarians are assisting people newly displaced by the conflict, including providing food assistance, water and health services, and identifying the most vulnerable for tailored support.

More resources are immediately required to meet the needs of people fleeing violence in Palma.


Following attacks by non-state armed groups and ongoing clashes in Palma which began on 24 March, 8,166 displaced people have been registered at arrival points in Nangade, Mueda, Montepuez and Pemba districts, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Thousands more people fleeing the conflict have arrived today in Pemba and other locations and are still being registered by IOM and its partners. There are also thousands of displaced people who remain near Palma town, including around the Afungi complex, where people have arrived dehydrated, hungry and in shock, according to Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF).

Hundreds of people are still trying to leave Palma and thousands are making their way by foot, boat and road to safer destinations, including towards neighbouring Nampula Province, according to humanitarians on the ground. There are unverified reports of thousands of people hiding in the bush surrounding Palma, without access to food or water. UNHCR has also received unconfirmed information that an undetermined number of Mozambicans may have crossed into Tanzania via informal entry points.

The UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS), operated by the World Food Programme (WFP), and other civil society groups are supporting the evacuation efforts. At least 18 sailing boats, carrying around 45 people each, arrived in Paquitequete, in Cabo Delgado’s capital Pemba, on 30 March, according to humanitarians. An additional boat, carrying more than 1,000 people, is expected to arrive in Pemba tomorrow, 1 April.

The security situation in Palma is still reportedly volatile, although information remains extremely difficult to verify due to telecommunications being down in Palma town. The attack in Palma is the most recent major incident in the conflict in Cabo Delgado, which began in October 2017. In 2020, the number of people displaced across the province rose from around 90,000 in January to more than 670,000 in December.

In a joint statement, the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba, the Special Representative for Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten, and the Special Representative for Violence against Children, Najat Maalla M’jid, strongly condemned the horrific acts of violence reported in Cabo Delgado, and underscored that the protection and humanitarian needs of the civilians, especially women and children, must be urgently addressed.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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