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Mozambican bishops call for solutions to end causes of insurgency

The Mozambican Catholic Bishops’ Conference on 14 April 2021 issued a statement condemning the ongoing terrorist attacks in the northern province of Cabo Delgado and armed violence in other parts of the country. They called for “collaboration” among all sectors of society, including the Church to find solutions for the causes of “discontent” and “division.” reports.

The Mozambican Catholic Bishops’ Conference held their first plenary session during April to discuss the local Church’s response to current developments in the country. The Conference issued a statement at the conclusion to the meeting, in which it commented on the political and economic situation in Mozambique.

Hopelessness breeds violence

Mozambique has been plagued by an ongoing insurgency in Cabo Delgado since 2017. In March, the United States State Department designated the locally grown insurgent group, Al Sunnah wa Jama’ah (ASWJ), as “global terrorist group” with links to ISIS.

Rebel activity by a dissident group that broke away from the main opposition Mozambican National Resistance (Renamo) often results in ambushes on highways through central Mozambique. Kidnapping, drug trafficking and other forms of crime are also on the rise.

Echoing a consistent message by Pope Francis, the Mozambican bishops commented that the cause of all forms of violence is that young people, in particular, have “no opportunities to build a dignified life.” The youth feel that “society and decisionmakers ignore their suffering.” This, say the bishops lead them to “be tempted and to join various insurgent groups” or to “follow illusions of easy money that lead to ruin.”

The Conference specifically highlighted the insurgency in Cabo Delgado, condemning “all the barbaric acts” where citizens have had “their property looted, the intimacy of their homes violated, their houses destroyed, and the corpses of their family members desecrated.” The statement warned of the absence of “clear signs that the causes of this conflict will soon be overcome.”

Government, corporates fuel social discontent

The text indirectly cited the government and other multinational companies operating in Mozambique, noting that there “are interests of various kinds that have taken hold of the nation and its resources” and that the “total lack of transparency” has fuelled “revolt and bitterness…becoming a source for discontent, division and mourning.”

Church available to help restore the social fabric

The Bishops expressed their “complete solidarity with the weakest members of our society” and the Church’s availability to “collaborate with the living forces of our country for a social order where egoism gives way to solidarity.” The statement noted the Catholic Church’s contribution to “education, health, and human development.” It offered its assistance “in the reconstruction of the social fabric that has been wounded by old and recent traumas.”

Read the translation of the full statement by the Mozambican Bishops Conference.

* The opinions expressed here by Spotlight.Africa contributors and editors are their own and not official statements of the Society of Jesus in South Africa or of the Catholic Church unless explicitly stated.