More than 50 children kidnapped by jihadists in northern Mozambique last year

In the province of Cabo Delgado in the north of the African country, which has been shaken by increasing uncertainty since 2017, around 50 children were kidnapped by jihadist groups last year, such as the non-governmental organization Save the. announced children this Wednesday.

The NGO, which has called for the “immediate release” of the 51 kidnapped minors, has detailed that most of the victims are girls, adding that the number is confirmed, so the real number is “much higher” could.

“There is no verified data available showing how many children managed to escape their kidnappers or how many children are still missing,” he said, emphasizing that “child abduction has become a new regular tactic from the armed groups involved in the conflict.

More than 50 children kidnapped by jihadists in northern Mozambique last year
More than 50 children kidnapped by jihadists in northern Mozambique last year

With that in mind, he stated that “prior to 2020 there was no information about the premeditated murders or kidnappings of children by the groups in Cabo Delgado,” although ten girls were abducted in June of that year when they tried to draw water from a well.

It was also highlighted that an attack on January 7, 2021, abducted 21 people, including six children, while at least seven people, all of whom fish in the area, were beheaded by the jihadists.

For this reason, he stressed that he was “deeply concerned” for the safety of these children, who have been abducted from their homes and in the open field, and noted that many of the minors have also experienced “atrocities” when they did there were kidnapped.

Nura, 42, was abducted by armed men in March 2021, along with her husband and four children, following the attack by the Islamic State in Central Africa (ISCA) on the city of Palma in March. Everyone was able to flee, except for her fourteen-year-old daughter Clementina.

“When we got to Ingoane there were armed men. They started writing our names in a book. Our names, one at a time, to the end. They started picking people to lock up in the houses,” said the woman in statements to Save the Children.

“They took our daughters and locked them in different houses, and they locked us in another house. When they separated me from my husband, I was scared. They later came back and took away the girls they were interested in. They let the women inside the house. At home, “he said.

Nura added that they managed to escape from the house after taking their daughters away. “After the escape we go through the bushes with our babies at night. At the moment my chest hurts. My head hurts. I cry inside,” he emphasized.

Save the Children Mozambique Director Chance Briggs stressed that “child abduction is one of the six most serious injuries to children in times of conflict, as defined by the United Nations”. “It violates humanitarian law and can be a first step towards war crimes like recruiting child soldiers or sexual violence against children,” he added.

“Being kidnapped, witnessing kidnappings, experiencing attacks and having to flee from armed groups are extremely traumatic events for young children and young people. Our hearts are with these children and their families, many of whom have been separated for a year or more. “Estimated.

With this in mind, he has advocated support for children who have fled or been released, as well as their parents, to encourage them to return to a normal life “quickly”, and has called for the abductees to be released. “Every day abducted children spend outside their community is too much and the risks of abuse, child marriage and pregnancy increase over time,” he said.

“All parties to the conflict must ensure that children are never targeted. You must do everything possible to minimize the harm to civilians, including ending indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks on civilians. Indeed, ending the conflict can put an end to these injuries to children “and their rights,” Briggs stressed.

In March, the NGO denounced that children at the age of eleven were beheaded by the jihadists who were responsible for dozens of attacks in Cabo Delgado in the past few months, in which more than 700,000 people were displaced.

Since October 2017, the province has been the scene of attacks by Islamist militias called Al Shabaab, which have nothing to do with the group of the same name that operates in Somalia and has ties to Al Qaeda. Since mid-2019, they have been mainly claimed by the Islamic State in Central Africa (ISCA), which has been increasing its actions since March 2020.

One of the attacks by ISCA is the one against the city of Palma in March, which led to clashes until the beginning of April and resulted in tens of thousands of people being displaced. There is currently no record of the victims, although the government has spoken of “hundreds” of dead.

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