What’s going on in Mozambique? – UNHCR Netherlands

Julienne, a Burundian refugee who lives with her three children in the Maratane refugee camp, in front of what used to be her home. © UNHCR/Juliana Ghazi

What’s going on in Mozambique?

Since October 2017, Northern Mozambique has been hit by violent conflict. A year ago, on March 24, 2021, armed groups launched large-scale attacks in the Palma district, killing dozens and displacing thousands of people. The situation in some parts of Northern Mozambique is very unsafe. In addition, the country is increasingly hit by cyclones and other storms. These are becoming more frequent and more severe due to climate change.

The situation in northern Mozambique remains a distressing but largely forgotten emergency. Since the conflict erupted in Cabo Delgado in October 2017, more than 735,000 people have fled their homes and become displaced across the country.

This crisis is exacerbated by an already fragile situation of chronic underdevelopment, disasters made more frequent and intense by the climate crisis, and recurrent outbreaks of diseases, including COVID-19.


A year after armed groups launched major attacks in the Palma district on March 24, 2021, renewed violence has displaced thousands of people since the beginning of this year. In March 2022, some 24,000 people were displaced in Nangade district. These people urgently need humanitarian aid and protection. Hundreds of families are reportedly still en route, with most fleeing to neighboring Mueda district.

People fleeing the violence experienced or witnessed extreme atrocities, including murder, beheading, mutilation, sexual assault, kidnapping, forced recruitment by armed groups and torture. The threat of renewed violence is increasing the number of people fleeing.

A woman walks through a site for displaced persons in Mpeme, Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province. © UNHCR/Martim Gray Pereira

Climate change

Extreme climate events pose additional challenges for both displaced persons and host communities in northern Mozambique. The climate crisis affects everyone, but those with the fewest resources to adapt are hit the hardest. About 80 percent of refugees and displaced persons come from the most climate-sensitive countries in the world, such as Mozambique.

Cyclone Gombe

After Tropical Storm Ana in January, Tropical Cyclone Gombe made landfall in Nampula Province on March 11, 2022, destroying homes, flooding farmlands and forced people to flee in search of safety. More than 380,000 people have been affected in Nampula province alone, including tens of thousands of internally displaced persons. They urgently need humanitarian aid, such as shelter materials to rebuild houses that collapsed during the storm.

The houses in Maratane refugee camp, Nampula, have been completely destroyed by Cyclone Gombe. ©UNHCR/Juliana Ghazi

Cyclone Gombe hit Mozambique less than two months after Tropical Storm Ana, which made landfall in northern and central Mozambique on January 24, affecting 180,869 people, injuring 207 and killing at least 38, mostly in the provinces of Zambezia, Nampula and Tete.

Gombe is the strongest storm to hit Mozambique since cyclones Idai and Kenneth wreaked havoc in the spring of 2019, killing hundreds and displacing some 2.2 million people.

Support UNHCR

UNHCR and partners are working closely with local authorities to provide support to displaced communities. UNHCR is providing urgently needed shelter and other emergency relief items to help refugees, internally displaced persons and host communities. We visit shelters to assess the needs of displaced persons – ranging from shelter, food and health care to protection against sexual exploitation and abuse, as well as mental health care and psychosocial support.

In addition, we are working to give displaced persons access to identity documents, which many lost when they fled home.

In Lyanda and Nandimba we are also building shelters and community facilities for displaced persons. However, there is a serious shortage of help, especially in the areas of mental health and psychosocial support for unaccompanied children, people with disabilities, pregnant women and the elderly.

Affected by brutal violence and the harsh effects of the climate crisis, people forced to flee Mozambique suffer every day and need more support, but there is a tragic lack of resources.

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