United Nations teams have received “disturbing” reports that Tanzania has rejected more than 1,000 people seeking refuge after an attack on a town in northern Mozambique by fighters affiliated with ISIL, said the High Commission United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
the March 24 attack on the city of Palma, alongside gas developments worth $ 60 billion, sent the townspeople scattering in all directions, some fleeing into dense forest while others escaped by boat.
Authorities say dozens of people have been killed, while thousands have fled the city of about 75,000 residents.
Some headed north towards Tanzania, aid workers said.
“UNHCR teams … have received disturbing reports from displaced populations that more than 1,000 people fleeing Mozambique and trying to enter Tanzania have not been allowed to cross the border to seek asylum,” said Tuesday its press release.
He called on Mozambique’s neighbors to provide access to those seeking protection.
UNHCR previously told Reuters news agency it did not have access to the border or affected areas, without giving a reason.
Two other aid workers said Tanzania had denied access to their organizations, while the Mozambican side of the border was considered too dangerous.
National and local Tanzanian officials did not respond to Reuters calls or declined to comment.
Last week, a boat with 45 fleeing Mozambicans on board docked in Tanzania, where a local community leader said he had been given food and shelter.
Hundreds more, meanwhile, have entered Tanzania by land, only to be returned later via another border post, according to one of the aid workers and a security consultant who works with a number of agencies. humanitarian.
A resident of Palma, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisal, said he was allowed to enter Tanzania, but was then taken for six hours and handed over to the Mozambican army in the border village of Negomano.
There was no food or shelter there, he said, so he continued to the district capital.
Armindo Ngunga, secretary of state for Mozambique’s northernmost province, Cabo Delgado, said many people who had fled to Tanzania were returning via Negomano and authorities would take care of them. He did not provide any figures.
The army said on Sunday that Palma was now “Completely safe”, while local media that visited the city said some citizens had started to return.
Meanwhile, six southern African presidents are due to hold emergency talks on the crisis, a regional bloc said on Tuesday.
Talks will be held Thursday in the Mozambican capital, Maputo, bringing together the presidents of Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania, Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
The 16-member Southern African Development Community (SADC), which made the announcement, said the meeting would “deliberate on measures to combat terrorism” in Mozambique.
Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi, the current SADC president, said the attacks were an “affront” to the peace and security of Mozambique, the region and the international community.
Southern Africa had enjoyed relative stability compared to other regions in recent years, until armed groups began to strike the gas-rich Cabo Delgado province in Mozambique.
French energy giant Total closed operations last week and pulled all staff from a gas project on the Afungi peninsula, about 10 km from the city.
Known locally as al-Shabab – but with no known connection to the Somali group of the same name – armed combatants from Cabo Delgado have launched more than 800 raids on towns and villages in an apparent attempt to establish a caliphate Islamic.
The violence has killed more than 2,600 people and uprooted an estimated 750,000 others.