The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says it has received reports that Tanzanian authorities ‘sent back’ over 1,000 asylum seekers fleeing Mozambique.
About 700,000 people from Cabo Delgado, Mozambique, have been displaced due to attacks by armed groups.
In March, thousands of people fled into surrounding forest when Islamic State-linked militants launched attacks on the northeastern town of Palma, ransacking buildings and killing civilians.
It was gathered that some of the stranded escapees, with little access to food and water, headed south but others walked north to the Tanzanian border.
‘UNHCR teams in Pemba have received worrying reports from displaced populations that over 1,000 people fleeing Mozambique and trying to enter Tanzania were not allowed to cross the border to seek asylum’, UNHCR spokesperson, Babar Baloch, said in a statement.
‘We are following up on these reports in Tanzania. UNHCR calls on Mozambique’s neighbours to provide access to territory and asylum procedures for those escaping violence and seeking protection’.
The government of Tanzania, at the time of reporting this update, had not responded to the UNHCR report.
Violence in Cabo Delgado has severely impacted health, water, and shelter facilities and access to food in the region.
This harrowing humanitarian crisis is compounded by an already fragile situation of chronic underdevelopment, consecutive climatic disasters, and recurrent disease outbreaks including Covid-19.
The insurgency that started in October 2017 has continued to increase in intensity as it has forced almost a fifth of the province’s people to leave their homes.
In a recent report, Save the Children International (SCI) raised concerns over the ‘beheading of children’ in the Mozambique province of Cabo Delgado.
The humanitarian organisation said children as young as 11 were reportedly being killed in the province.
It is understood that the Mozambican government is developing sites for the remaining displaced people.
The government, according to UNHCR, has also moved some people from overcrowded areas to a settlement site, where they are living in primitive conditions, and shelter, food, clothing, as well as water and sanitation, are desperately needed.
Photo source: UNHCR/Martim Gray Pereira