Paul Samasumo – Vatican City.
In a weekend communiqué, "to Christians and people of good will" under the title, "The voice of your brother's blood cries out from the earth to Me," Bishop Luiz Fernando Lisboa, CP., says that peace will only be possible in the north of the country when there is inclusion and equitable sharing of the country’s resources.
Devastating attacks in the Province of Cabo Delgado
Since last October, the northern part of Mozambique has been rocked by deadly attacks perpetrated by groups in the Province of Cabo Delgado. The attacks have resulted in many deaths, and the displacement of villagers as a climate of fear reigns in an area. The region holds one of the world’s most significant untapped offshore gas fields.
Bishop Lisboa, whose Diocese of Pemba, falls under the Province of Cabo Delgado has said poverty in the area is one of the major causes leading young, disillusioned and vulnerable Mozambicans into the hands of groups some of whom have links to Islamic extremists such as the shadowy band of young Muslims operating in the area.
The Bishop of Pemba alludes to years of neglect of the northern territories by the central government as a contributing factor to the disenchantment.
Need for stability and responsibility in sharing resources
According to the Bishop, with the discovery of offshore gas fields, the people of Cabo Delgado have become the target of a real invasion of all manner of people from different backgrounds, companies and projects. The Bishop stresses that such wealth should generate employment and hope for the youth of the area if there is care and responsibility in the sharing of benefits resulting from the discovery.
The hidden enemy has no face
As for the matrix of attacks, Bishop Lisboa speaks of a "hidden enemy" because no one knows precisely who is behind the attacks or the motives for some of the horrible acts witnessed.
“The hidden enemy has no face, no proposal, no interlocutor with whom one can talk,” The Bishop cautions against the simplistic approach of dismissing all attacks as the work of Islamic militants. What is clear and palpable, the Bishop says, is that there is real anger and ferocity to the violence. He regrets that in spite of the rise in the appalling attacks, the response of the central government in Maputo has been unsatisfactory.
Say no to religious prejudices
“The young people involved in the attacks are not just strangers, foreigners or "terrorists", because they are also young people of our families, our villages, our parties and from our professions of faith, "says Bishop Lisboa. He urges everyone not to be blinded by religious, ethnic or political prejudices but rather to unite and get to the bottom of the issues behind the instability.
About 30 per cent of Mozambique's 30 million people are said to be Catholics while 18 per cent are Muslim.
Bishop Lisboa’s communique has been well-received by many northerners who generally fear that the vast gas deposits will probably not benefit their mostly rural and less educated people of Cabo Delgado.