Mozambique Protection Analysis Update


In Northern Mozambique a significant number of people are returning to their districts in Cabo Delgado amid continued displacement and attacks by Non-State Armed Groups (NSAGs). Insufficient humanitarian assistance in areas of displacement, limited livelihood opportunities, challenges in accessing land and the perceived improvement of the security situation contribute to IDPs returning to their areas of origin. Up until August 2023, NSAGs had targeted security forces and are seeking communities’ acceptance through commercial exchange, with attacks against civilians driving displacement, including forced displacement of newly returned IDPs. Attacks against civilians in Mocimboa da Praia and Macomia districts in September and December 2023, as well as in January 2024, have added to the complexity of the response.

According to DTM-IOM Round 19, the number of IDPs in Cabo Delgado decreased to 627,846 people as of August 2023, while the number of returnees increased to 540,958. Returns are taking place in areas where insecurity persists, or where the government’s ability to provide basic social services has been hampered by the destruction of public infrastructure. This has prompted IDP mixed-movements between areas of return and displacement, as well as between urban/peri-urban locations and rural villages. Returnees require humanitarian assistance until development and stabilization programming scale up and national services are re-established. Although a large number of IDPs have physically “returned” to their district of origin, the majority do not meet the eight criteria of the IASC Framework for Durable Solutions, which prescribes when a durable solution is achieved. Human rights and international humanitarian law violations combined with limited capacity of the Mozambican government and humanitarian actors to address the affected population needs have had a cumulatively devastating effect on the population’s coping capacities and increased their vulnerabilities, escalating existing protection risks.

The most critical protection risks identified are: 1. Forced recruitment and association of children in armed forces and armed groups 2. Sexual violence against women and girls 3. Unvoluntary and induced returns in adverse circumstances 4. Impediments and restrictions to effective access to land and tenure security 5. Limitations and restrictions to access to information, including meaningful engagement and consultation.

Urgent actions needed: 
Amidst the continued conflict in Cabo Delgado and protection risks, it is of utmost importance to:

• Ensure the protection of the civilian population, including establishment of clear monitoring mechanisms and protocols, and a robust approach to activate and support dedicated Protection of Civilians (PoC) mechanisms at a district level.
• Immediately reinforce all available means and mechanisms, including institutional structures, to ensure meaningful community consultation, engagement and accountability to affected population to reduce unsafe and uninformed returns of IDPs in adverse circumstances, access to response mechanisms and enhance the potential of durable solutions.
• Revitalize the existing emergency protection response to provide an efficient, coordinated and tailored response to the important number of persons forcibly displaced, in light of the increase of attacks by the end of 2023.