MAF partner Ambassador Aviation continues to evacuate more than 500 refugees in Mozambique, thousands of whom remain trapped in Cabo Delgato district.
Terrorist attacks in northeast Mozambique, which began on March 24, 2021, prompted tens of thousands of people to flee Cabo Delgato district, triggering a joint emergency response from humanitarian aid agencies. Among them, Ambassador Aviation, a partner of the MAF, rescued nearly 500 local refugees.
Recent news reports criticized the response for “prioritizing white workers for the evacuation”, leaving thousands of local people still waiting for help in vast queues. According to the Guardian, 20,000 Mozambicans are still trapped near the Palma gas plant weeks after the attack.
Since March 31, Ambassador Aviation, a MAF partner, has made 92 flights to and from the Afungi airstrip a few kilometers from Palma, saving 567 people, including children, the elderly, the sick and the elderly. injured, and a pregnant woman in distress.
A passenger and eyewitness who runs a crèche in Palma, told MAF that the attack started right outside his property and gunshots rocked the building. The man fled into the bush and hid there for 15 days before being rescued by Ambassador Aviation’s Cessna Caravan plane. Following his ordeal, the man is very grateful for the evacuation flight to Pemba, where a makeshift refugee camp is home to thousands of displaced people.
In addition to evacuating the refugees, Ambassador Aviation also transported nearly 10,000 kg of relief goods and technical equipment, including medical supplies, fresh water, mosquito nets and food rations, as well as cables. , power supplies and repair equipment to restore damaged communications infrastructure.
On May 19, MAF Disaster Response Operations Specialist Jill Holmes joined an evacuation flight from the Afungi airstrip to Pemba, where women, children and people elderly waiting to be rescued.
An older woman struggled to stand up and was carried to the plane. Another had her foot wrapped in a cloth and was limping slowly. A lady passed her baby to her four-year-old and tried to carry the injured woman on her back before a local aid worker stepped in to help her. I loaded their bags, each weighing a maximum of 10 kg – most likely containing all the possessions these people had after fleeing their homes. It’s hard to imagine leaving everything and heading into the unknown.
Although the flight only lasted an hour, the mere act of getting on a plane was completely foreign to these passengers. But theft was probably the least scary thing they had done in recent weeks. These people have fled the violence, left their homes and now face a totally uncertain future.
Violence in Cabo Delgado began on March 24, when around 100 activists reportedly raided the city of Palma – the site of a multibillion-dollar natural gas project owned by the French energy giant. “Total”. The violence has been described by the BBC as “one of the biggest” extremist attacks in the region since the militants launched their insurgency in 2017. The March attacks destroyed the hospital, banks and the prosecutor’s office de Palma, displacing nearly 28,000 people – 44% of them are children.
With at least 1,500 refugees having been turned away from neighboring Tanzania since the recent attacks in Palma, the United Nations expressed concern at a press briefing in Geneva on May 18, saying the situation is “particularly desperate for them. single mothers without family or support “.
MAF increased its capacity in May 2021 by securing an additional plane and pilot from partner Mercy Air in South Africa, as the need for evacuation flights, food, medical supplies and other relief continues.
Written by: Jo Lamb