UNHCR warns of “invisible” crisis in Mozambique, with climate shock forcing more and more people to flee

UNHCR warns of “invisible” crisis in Mozambique, with climate shock forcing more and more people to flee

Houses damaged by Cyclone Gombe in Nampula, Mozambique. © UNHCR / Agnes Madziwa

The UNHCR, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, is deeply concerned about the violence and climate of insecurity in northern Mozambique. Conflicts and human flight, exacerbated by extreme weather events, have led to an increased need for protection – physical, material and legal – for hundreds of thousands of refugees, internally displaced persons and members of host communities.

Since the beginning of this year, Mozambique has been hit by five tropical storms and cyclones along its northern coastal areas. They have affected thousands of families, including refugees and internally displaced people due to persistent violence in the northern province of Cabo Delgado – and show us once again how the effects of climate change interact with many of the root causes of population displacement.

Recently, on March 11, tropical cyclone Gombe hit more than 736,000 people, including those at the Corrane site of internally displaced persons and refugees in the Maratane settlement. In Maratane, 80% of shelters have been damaged and more than 27,000 refugees, asylum seekers and members of the host community still have an urgent need for help.

All regions of the world are exposed to climate risks. Cyclones and other storms become more frequent and severe, floods intensify, droughts intensify, and fires become more devastating. Over 80% of refugees and internally displaced persons come from the most climate-vulnerable countries around the world.

The growing impact of the climate crisis can continue to be felt in Mozambique, exacerbating vulnerability, forcing people to flee and making life more difficult for refugees, internally displaced persons and host communities.

About 783,000 people continue to suffer from the devastating effects of the violence in the northern province of Cabo Delgado. In 2022 alone, an estimated 6,000 people were registered as newly displaced following a resurgence of the conflict in the provinces of Cabo Delgado and Niassa. The violence prevented UN agencies and other humanitarian partners from reaching people in need.

A high-level UNHCR mission visited the country from April 24 to May 1, 2022 to assess how the UNHCR and partners can increase protection and assistance to people affected by conflicts and climate shocks in Mozambique. Mozambique faces these two challenges in an “invisible” crisis, while humanitarian operations are limited by chronic underfunding.

Missionaries were able to observe the severe damage caused by Cyclone Gombe. The houses were literally dissolved. Schools, clinics and infrastructure were severely damaged or destroyed.

UNHCR intervened in areas affected by Gombe and other storms, including providing shelter and housing for affected communities and repairing schools, clinics and other important infrastructure.

In accessible areas, the UNHCR, other UN agencies and humanitarian partners continue to step up their protection and assistance activities and emphasize the vitality of being able to continue to do so.

Together with the Government of Mozambique and its partners, the UNHCR has provided legal assistance to 21,500 people from both displaced and host communities in Cabo Delgado and has reached around 55,000 people with information campaigns on prevention and response to gender-based violence.

UNHCR is committed to supporting the Mozambican government, local authorities and communities in protecting and finding solutions for refugees, helping Mozambique deal with the consequences of internal travel and strengthening the need to be prepared for emergencies and respond to extreme weather events.

The already significant needs in Mozambique continue to grow. However, the resources are not enough. To continue and scale up operations in Mozambique, the UNHCR needs $ 36.7 million by 2022.


For more information on this topic, please contact:

  • I Maputo, Damien Mc Sweeney, [email protected]+25 887 1864 225
  • In Pretoria (regional), Hélène Caux, [email protected]+27 82 376 5190
  • In Pretoria (regional), Pumla Rulashe, [email protected]+27 82 377 5665
  • In Geneva, Boris Cheshirkov, [email protected]+41 79 433 7682
  • In New York, Kathryn Mahoney, [email protected]+1 347 443 7646

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