Following the violent attacks conducted by Non-State Armed Groups on 24 March, close to 10,000 people fled from Palma, in Cabo Delgado, Northern Mozambique, as of 2 April 2021 (source: IOM/DTM). Displaced families are fleeing by land and sea to the districts of Nangade, Mueda, Montepuez and Pemba, and the majority (67 per cent) are hosted by relatives and friends. Due to insecurity in Palma during the past week, humanitarian evacuations by air and sea were suspended since 2 April, leaving thousands stranded in the area. As of February 2021, close to 700,000 people had been forcibly displaced by violence in Cabo Delgado and neighbouring provinces.
UNHCR received reports that several families from Palma attempted to seek asylum in Tanzania due to the proximity to the border. As of 4 April, UNHCR was informed that around 600 Mozambican asylum seekers crossed the border to Tanzania and were refouled through Negomano to Cabo Delgado. This information is being followed up with the local authorities of both countries as well as with UNHCR’s Office in Tanzania.
Emergency Response in Pemba
Monitoring, assisting and referring displaced families arriving in Pemba, Cabo Delgado: UNHCR monitored and directly assisted families who fled Palma arriving in Pemba by boats and flights. UNHCR still continues to deliver protection services at the transit center set up by the Government in Pemba city, where currently 40 families are accomodated. 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. On 1 April, UNHCR assisted the local authorities in Pemba in prioritizing and referring vulnerable cases among 1,000 internally displaced people who arrived by boat and 200 by air.
Emergency Protection Units (EPUs) in Pemba, Cabo Delgado: UNHCR partakes in the four EPUs established by the Protection Cluster at the airport, port and transit centers in Pemba, to provide direct emergency protection services/referrals for families fleeing violence in Palma. The EPUs, led by UNHCR, 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. As of 4 April, among the new arrivals in Pemba, UNHCR identified and referred over 60 protection cases to specialized services, out of which 50 per cent were children, 79 per cent were women and girls, and 52 per cent had special needs, disabilities, or were in need of health or mental health assistence.
Core Relief Items (CRIs): UNHCR distributed sleeping mats and blankets to over 120 families arriving in Pemba without family or relatives in the city and who are accommodated in transit centers.
Assistance Coordination: UNHCR is leading the coordination between service providers at the sea port, airport and transit centers, including the transportation and registration of displaced families; the distribution of food and CRIs; the provision of tents for protection services such as mental health and psycosocial support; and the establishment of a child friendly space in one transit center. UNHCR is also coordinating the protection and service delivery response at a sports center used as temporary center to identify gaps, improve coverage of essential services, avoid duplication, and establish referral pathways between different service providers for vulnerable cases.
Focus Group Discussion (FGD) with displaced women in Pemba: on 3 April, UNHCR organized an FGD with ten women from 18 to 27 years-old who recently arrived in Pemba from Palma and Mueda by boat, to assess their main protection concerns and needs. Their main protection concerns are related to the lack of community structures; the absence of private/ separate spaces and areas for women; and access to documentation such as IDs and birth certificates. This group of women also requested medical support for children; transportation assistance to different districts/provinces where they have relatives; the improvement of hygiene and sanitation infrastructures; and the distribution of mosquito nets.
Protection risks and concerns : With the suspension of organized evacuations by air and sea from Palma since 2 April, thousands of families who remained trapped in the district are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. UNHCR is concerned with reports of families prevented from seeking asylum and/or being forcibly returned from Tanzania, and urges neigbouring countries to respect access to asylum and to the principle of non-refoulement. For newly displaced arriving in Pemba, the main protection concerns are related to (i) individuals without support networks of relatives/friends to assist them; (ii) the separation of families during large screenings at the port; (iii) adequate identification and assistance to unaccompanied and separated children; (iv) underreported and limited identification of survivors of Gender Based Violence; (v) individuals with heightened vulnerabilities, disabilities, health conditions, and trauma; (vi) vulnerable population groups such as single women head of household, pregnant women, and the elderly; and (vii) potential risks of sexual exploitation and abuse.