‘Al-Shabaab’ Attacks: Investigating the Armed Conflict, Poverty, and Mismanagement of Natural Resources in Mozambique on Independence DayJun 24, 2021 09:00AM ● By Oga Africa
(Image by Global Financing Facility https://www.flickr.com/photos/thegff/46977495575 )
Since 2017, Mozambicans have suffered from violent instability, mass displacement, and exacerbated hunger due to armed Islamic groups who have moved to assert dominance over the northern and central parts of the Southeastern African country.
An ISIS-linked group ‘Al-Shabaab’ has made over 20 attacks in the northern region. Civilians are being murdered and chased out of their homes, with Mozambicans, including 12-year-old children, being beheaded. As of March 16, the BBC reported that over 2,500 people have been killed. Mozambique’s military is not equipped to handle the situation. Retaliation efforts are being spearheaded by the Dyck Advisory Group, a South African company hired by the Mozambican government.
The civil unrest is set against a backdrop of abundant natural resources, rampant poverty and corruption, drug trafficking, inadequate military resources, and insufficient maritime security management.
Rubies and gas were discovered in Cabo Delgado in 2009-2010, a region where many Al-Shabaab recruits hail from. In 2011, gas fields were discovered off of the country’s coast, and companies like Total, Exxon, Mobil, and other international companies flocked to the Mozambican oil sector. Although oil and mineral partnerships have helped improve the country’s GDP, situations for citizens who live in poverty have worsened.
The most recent attack occurred on March 24th, 2021 at Palma, a Northern region town near a $20bn gas liquefaction plant, which has been constructed in partnership with Total, the French energy company. This project, the largest foreign investment project in Africa, previously displaced citizens.
(Image by International Livestock Research Institute https://www.flickr.com/photos/ilri/5251878236 )
Al-Shabaab’s motivations include poverty and political Islam. Many recruits are reported to be unemployed youth in the country’s Cabo Delgado region. Others are said to be from neighboring countries such as Tanzania. The high volume of natural resources in the country, including gas and rubies in the northern region, and extreme poverty, has created an environment that is unsatisfiable for impoverished civilians, and this reality may have encouraged youth who are easily influenced to be brainwashed by ISIS idolizing communities.
One of the jihadist leaders said last year that Mozambique should have an Islamic government and that the governing system is not fair, with extreme poverty on one hand and intense wealth on the other. Northern Mozambique, where the conflict is concentrated, has some of the highest levels of poverty in the country.
Mozambican politicians, who are notoriously corrupt, have come under fire for their lack of progress in ensuring the welfare of citizens. In 2013, after a visit to Mozambique, Brazilian president Luiz Inácio ‘Lula’ Da Silva said “No Mozambican can feel proud to open their car door and see a hungry person looking for something to eat in the rubbish.”
By June, over 732,000 people in Northern Mozambique were displaced, fleeing for their lives, with some moving multiple times as the conflict areas widened.
According to ‘Save the Children’, nearly a million Mozambicans face hunger due to the conflict. Learn more about how you can help here: https://mozambique.savethechildren.net.