Mozambique (MNN) — Northern Mozambique is facing a growing humanitarian crisis.
As northern Mozambique continues to combat a wave of extremist insurgency, thousands of people flee the area. Almost 3,000 people have been killed. The number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Mozambique is now over 700,000.
One of the agencies helping transport victims is Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF). MAF – through its partner in Mozambique, Ambassador Aviation (AA) – has been evacuating refugees. Most of them are women and children as well as the elderly, sick, or wounded.
Pilot Dave Holmes with AA in Mozambique says, “Since 2017, the northern province of Cabo Delgado has been experiencing a build-up of insurgency… Then, on March 24th of this year, the group conducted a pretty significant attack on a city named Palma. It is in an area where one of the largest liquid natural gas projects in the world is currently being developed. In that attack, several ex-pat contract workers were killed, and that put Mozambique in international headlines.”
Many people are still trapped in Palma. Although AA continues to conduct as many evacuation flights as possible, the situation is complicated.
“The military and police have a pretty challenging job of allowing the suffering folks to be moved out of areas in harm’s way,” Holmes says. “But they also have to ensure that the bad guys aren’t in the mix. And it’s understandable. Their caution has made it a bit more difficult for us to get permission to do flights.”
Food, water, and healthcare are scarce as insurgents cut off access to hospitals and supplies. And with limited international aid response, it’s created a perfect storm.
Holmes says, “The people that were able to flee during that attack on March 24 were able to go hide out in the bush and many of them were there for two weeks or more. With hospitals and clinics closed and even some of them being destroyed, there’s no way to care for the sick or injured people. In addition, normal food supplies have not been able to reach the people in the area and some people are literally starving.”
Along with evacuation flights, AA is transporting relief supplies. Having transported over 20,000 pounds of food and medicine, they recently flew 700 pounds of food to be distributed to refugees at the Tanzania border.
Even after nearly a decade of service in Mozambique, Holmes has never seen a situation this volatile so close to their operations.
“There have been political situations in the past, but it’s mostly been well outside of where we are located. It has influenced some of our work because we’ve picked up more flights where people are not able to travel by road previously. So in some cases, we would pick up more flights transporting people around where they just couldn’t move otherwise. But not even remotely close to this level.”
The situation is still unfolding. But MAF needs to raise $120,000 to continue supporting local aid and emergency aviation services. A generous donor is matching all gifts up to $25,000.
In terms of prayer needs, Holmes says they need more open doors. “Pray that the necessary permissions for us to continue our operations would be granted, as the Lord wills. And also remembering Ephesians 6:12, that our struggle is not against flesh and blood and that there are definitely some forces that don’t want us to continue the work that the Lord has put in front of us.”
Header photo courtesy of Ambassador Aviation.