Evacuation flights from Mozambique have been suspended amid security concerns

Pemba, Mozambique, April 3 2021: Evacuation flights from Mozambique have been suspended by the UN agency World Food Programme amid security concerns.

This comes a day after Total shut its operations in the area. Mozambique’s north has been ravaged by an escalating Islamist insurgency since 2017 and last week deadly attacks in the town of Palma, 10km from Afungi, killed dozens and displaced tens of thousands.

The World Food Programme has been helping airlift the most vulnerable people affected by the violence to the provincial capital, but since Friday has temporarily halted the flights.

“Due to the deterioration of the security situation, we have for the time being temporarily paused evacuation flights from Afungi to Pemba with the UN Humanitarian Air Service, managed by WFP,” spokeswoman Shelley Thakral.

WFP has already evacuated 380 of the most vulnerable. Nearly 10,000 people fleeing from the violence in the Palma area have reached safety in other parts of the Cabo Delgado province. According to the International Organisation for Migration, another 23,000 are estimated to be still around Afungi, which is under military protection.

An MSF official said that the global medical charity had evacuated its team from Afungi “due to the deterioration of the security conditions”. The brazen assault which started on March 24 was the latest in a string of more than 830 organised raids by Islamist militants over the past three years during which more than 2,600 people have died.

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