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With the jihadist attacks, the inhabitants of Palma, Mozambique, flee and crowd into refugee camps. They fear the kidnappings of young girls and boys.
Since the fall of Palma at the hands of the jihadists on March 24, 20,000 people abandoned it. Even though this town in northeastern Mozambique is now under army control, fear is still present. Residents fear kidnappings.
“I did not see the insurgents, but there was a lot of movement, a lot of agitation. In the surrounding towns, it was rumored that the insurgents were very close to the town. We left”, explains Anfate Ansumani, one of these displaced. The man has not heard from his 16-year-old son since the fighting in March. He fears that the teenager has been forcibly recruited into the ranks of the jihadists.
Abductions of children
According to the refugees, with each attack, children disappear – young girls but also young boys. “My uncle was with his wife and another couple. His wife was carrying her son. They tried to hide, but the insurgents found them. They let them go, but they took the baby with them,” Katia said. Assoumane, who lost his three-year-old nephew, kidnapped by armed men during the attack on Palma.
These kidnappings terrorize the populations, who flee to protect their children. Over 40% of refugees are under 18. Humanitarian associations are worried about an ever increasing influx. “We do things locally, we do not fold our arms, but the country alone will not succeed. We will never do enough. If the international community can help us, it will be welcome,” said Anita Buanayaque, manager. of the community of Sant’Egidio, when there are already more than a million displaced people in the north of Mozambique.