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Tens of thousands of internally displaced persons fleeing violence in Cabo Delgado have sought shelter in an informal center in the Tara Tara district of Matuge. Tens of thousands of internally displaced persons fleeing violence in Cabo Delgado have sought shelter in an informal center in the Tara Tara district of Matuge.  (AFP or licensors)

Palm Sunday appeal for an end to violence in Cabo Delgado

On Palm Sunday the apostolic administrator of Pemba, in Mozambique, issued an appeal for an end to violence in tne northern province of Cabo Delgado.

By Lisa Zengarini

The apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Pemba, in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique, has called for an end to war in the province, where extreme violence by jihadi guerrilla has caused at least 2,000 dead and over 700,000 displaced. In his homily for Palm Sunday, Bishop António Juliasse invoked Christ’s mercy so that “all can be changed from within” and this war “that no one understands and that harms everybody can finish as soon as possible”.

He reminded Mozambican leaders of their duty to guarantee justice so “to preserve people from evils”.  “Justice in a nation is non-negotiable. A leader who does not practice justice is no longer truly a leader”, he said, stressing that the government should pay attention to the poorest and help them overcome poverty and no one should be excluded “for religious, political, ethnic or even regional reasons".

 

Leaders should practice justice

He reminded Mozambican leaders of their duty to guarantee justice so “to preserve people from evils”.  “Justice in a nation is non-negotiable. A leader who does not practice justice is no longer truly a leader”, he said, stressing that the government should pay attention to the poorest and help them overcome poverty and no one should be excluded “for religious, political, ethnic or even regional reasons".

There is no religion of violence

He also pointed out that religious leaders should not foment violence, because, he said, “there is no religion of violence”. On the other hand, he added that Government leaders cannot “wash their hands” of their responsibilities, like Pilate, because this means condemning innocent people. "If a leader washes his hands, he condemns all the people he governs", he emphasized. Bishop Juliasse finally called on God to show Mozambicans another way: “not the way of violence, not the way of cruelty, but the way of love, of fraternity”.

Pope Francis' call for solidarity with Cabo Delgado 

Violence in the northern province of Cabo Delgado broke out in late 2017, when a local jihadi group known as Ansar al-Sunnah, who has declared its allegiance to the so-called Islamic State, launched a revolt and has escalated in the last year. The province is one of the poorest in Mozambique, but is very rich in gas and rubies which have attracted many foreign corporations, but also the jihadi militias, who want to introduce the Islamic law and create a caliphate. The militias have attacked villages, churches, killed civilians, and the army to take over strategic infrastructures and extractive mines. The attacks have become more and more violent and target both Christians and Muslims. Last Wednesday, terrorist attacks intensified in the district of Palma, which drove 1.800 people to flee the region by boat.

The crisis in Cabo Delgado attracted international attention last year, when former Bishop of Pemba Luiz Fernando Lisboa and the Mozambican bishops called for support, and Pope Francis appealed for solidarity in his Easter Urbi and Orbi message on April 12 2020.

29 March 2021, 16:54