Civilians flee en masse to Pemba following Palma bloodbath

By | Rachel Brooks

April 11, 2021 

Image credit: “File:Market in Wete, Pemba Island, Tanzania.JPG” by Vincent van Zeijst is licensed under CC BY 3.0

A market in Pemba, Mozambique. Officials wonder how much greater influx of people the city can handle, as the war ravaging Palma sends people fleeing to this location. 

A refugee spike in Pemba, Mozambique has drawn international alarm as the chaos within the country intensifies. The Tablet Magazine reported that, according to the United Nations, Pemba’s population of 200,000 saw a massive surge of roughly three-quarters its size since February. Aid workers fear the city will not be able to meet the ever-increasing demand of a rising IDP population.  

Violence in the country has recently centered around Palma. Fleeing the carnage, thousands of families are en route to Pemba. The Tablet magazine called on the world to “wake up” to the horror that wages in Mozambique. 

BBC journalists managed to photograph the chaos within the country, capturing the profound grief that covers the faces of those arriving in Pemba by the droves. The survivors bear the weight of remembering mutilated and decapitated bodies in the regions they have narrowly escaped. 

Panic drives many rumors as insurgencies leave the nation in terror 

Africa Analyst Jasmine Opperam tweeted that the situation in Pemba was “extremely anxious” because of “unverified” information regarding the attacks. Opperam was referring to a criminal incident in the area, that, due to the influx of insurgencies across the nation had created panic. She noted that there were no confirmed sightings of the insurgencies in the Mecufi area as of April 10, and locals had dismissed the issue as rumors. The state of panic is felt throughout the country as no one knows where Hell will wake next.

The UNHCR confirmed that many of those fleeing the Palma uprising are fleeing the location on foot. 

Help has arrived to those escaping Pemba in the form of a UNHCR clinic set up to receive the influx of people scattered from the violence.

As waves of insurgency plague the nation, analysts told the Mail & Guardian Zimbabwe on April 10 that they expect another attack “in the next few months” in northern Mozambique. This analysis states that at least 8,000 refugees have fled to Pemba.

Aide agencies also were jeopardized as the onslaught progressed. The  Mail & Guardian report states that the World Food Programme’s drivers in the region of the attacks found themselves at the mercy of the Palma insurgents, who beheaded them on a resupply run as the insurgents took advantage of what resources they could following the onslaught and razing of Palma.