Mozambique: Cabo Delgado Emergency Situation, Flash Update #1 (1 April 2021)

Situation Report
Originally published



Over 8,000 people fled from Palma, in Cabo Delgado, Northern Mozambique, as of 31 March 2021 following the violent attacks conducted by Non-State Armed Groups since 24 March (Source: OCHA). Numbers are expected to rise in the coming days as several people are still hiding and communications in Palma are very limited. Displaced families are fleeing by land, air and sea to the districts of Nangade, Mueda, Montepuez and Pemba, and the majority are hosted by relatives and friends. As of December 2020, a total of 670,000 people had been displaced by violence in Cabo Cabo Delgado and neighbouring provinces.

UNHCR received various reports that several families attempted to seek asylum in Tanzania due to the proximity of Palma with the border. This information is being followed up with the local authorities and UNHCR’s Office in Tanzania.

Emergency Response in Pemba

Monitoring and assisting displaced families arriving in Pemba, Cabo Delgado: Since the onset of the crisis on 28 March, UNHCR is monitoring and directly assisting families fleeing from Palma at the local port and at the airport in Pemba. UNHCR is prioritizing and referring persons with heightened vulnerabilities and specific needs to essential services, including unaccompanied and separated children, survivors of sexual violence, pregnant women, people with disabilities and the elderly.

Emergency Protection Units (EPUs) in Pemba, Cabo Delgado: UNHCR partakes in the four EPUs established by the Protection Cluster at the airport, port and temporary accommodation sites in Pemba, to provide direct emergency protection services/referrals for families fleeing violence in Palma. Each EPU is composed by five technical staff from UN Agencies and Ngos specialized on general protection, child protection, gender based violence (GBV), and mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS). The EPUs are currently identifying and referring cases with specific needs, reunificating families, creating emergency service mapping, providing key protection information, and key protection messages to new arrivals, as well as mainstreaming protection, including physical safety, across the emergency response, in coordination with other clusters and the local authorities.

Core Relief Items: UNHCR is distributing sleeping mats and blankets to support families arriving in Pemba who do not have family or relatives in the city and that will be accommodated in a school in Paquitequete neighbourhood and a sports centre in Expansao neighborhood.

Prevention of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA): On 31 March, given the increasing arrival of vulnerable women and children, including some who are unaccompanied and separated, UNHCR delivered a PSEA training to some 20 staff members from several organizations involved in the frontline response to IDPs arriving in Pemba. The aim is to strenghten the accountability of humanitarian actors and to prevent and mitigate SEA risks. The majority of the forcibly displaced persons arriving from Palma are staying with relatives and friends while others are being accommodated in temporary centres identified by the government in Pemba city.

Monitoring transit centres: On 31 March, UNHCR assessed together with other clusters and the local authorities a school and a sports centre in Pemba that will serve as temporary sites to host displaced families who do not have relatives or friends in Pemba to stay with. At these sites, UNHCR identified protection risks such as limited space to host a large number of families expected to arrive in the coming days; lack of separation of areas for men, women and children; inexistence of nearby health and mental health services; potential exposure to GBV and SEA incidents; poor condition of the infrastructure, which will not provide adequate and dignified shelter conditions; and limited water and hygiene facilites. In addition to addressing the risks above mentioned, the temporary centres need an area to carry protection activities/establish a protection desk to address immediate needs of new arrivals and refer cases for additional support to relevant services, including family reunification, GBV survivors, people with disabilities and elder people, and ensure they receive adequate and timely assistance.

Financial Information

UNHCR’s financial requirements for the Emergency Response to the Cabo Delgado Situation in 2020-2021 total US$ 19.2 million. As of February 2021, 39 per cent of these needs have been funded.


Francesca Fontanini, Senior External Relations Officer,
UNHCR Representation in Maputo

Juliana Ghazi, Associate External Relations Officer,
UNHCR Representation in Maputo

Martim Gray Pereira, Associate Reporting Officer,
UNHCR Field Office Pemba