UN rights chief calls for protection of Mozambique civilians amid escalating conflict News
Chickenonline / Pixabay
UN rights chief calls for protection of Mozambique civilians amid escalating conflict

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called for the protection of civilians in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado Friday, after reports of an “increasingly alarming human rights situation.” Insurgents captured the district of Muidumbe in Cabo Delgado last week, causing thousands to flee.

Bachelet described the human rights situation as “desperate” for many. The international humanitarian law and human rights violations committed include killings and maiming, looting, destruction of houses and public and religious facilities, abductions and abuses of girls and women, as well as the possible forced recruitment of children.

Additionally, the UN has requested funds to help house some of the more than 350,000 displaced people from the region. People have been fleeing the region since 2017 when attacks began to escalate. Insurgents have killed dozens of people in the past two weeks. Bachelet claims there have been reports of beheading in the region. The Washington Post reported that insurgents may have decapitated as many as 50 people in recent weeks.

UN Spokesperson Babar Baloch noted that many are unable to escape the brutal attacks, as many districts are inaccessible or under the control of armed groups.

In addition to human rights violations committed by a growing insurgency, Bachelet claimed Mozambican security forces have also perpetrated human rights violations in recent years. These violations include extrajudicial killings, ill-treatment, use of force violations, arbitrary detentions, including of journalists, and unlawful restrictions on the freedom of movement. She said:

People living in these areas whose rights have been violated are entitled to protection and remedy. All alleged violations and abuses of international human rights law and international humanitarian law committed by the armed groups and security forces must be thoroughly, independently and transparently investigated by the competent authorities. Those responsible must be held to account.

Underlying much of this conflict is growing food insecurity, overcrowding, and a lack of sanitation tools, which is of particular importance in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.