New Report: Mozambique: Violence, Refugees, and the Luwani Camp

Washington

Violence from political rivalry becomes source of refugees in southern Africa

Security forces of the Mozambican government are committing gross human rights abuses against civilians in central Mozambique, leading people to cross the border into Malawi as refugees, a report issued today by Freedom House finds.

Through interviews with Mozambican refugees in Malawi, researchers found substantive evidence of growing violence by government forces as part of a little-known conflict with the opposition Renamo movement in central Mozambique. A survey of refugees at Luwani Camp in southwestern Malawi found that more than 85 percent identified perpetrators of personal attacks as Frelimo (government) soldiers. Killing was the dominant type of violence. 

“Refugees described family members being tied by their wrists and ankles by government troops, thrown into their homes, and then burned alive,” said Lynn Fredriksson, director of Southern Africa programs. “Other atrocities include shootings, sexual violence, abduction, and family separation. “The Mozambican government should end this violence against its own citizens, reign in its forces, and make a serious commitment to the peace negotiations to end this conflict.”

The report Mozambique: Violence, Refugees, and the Luwani Camp is based on research conducted in Malawi during October 2016 in Luwani Refugee Camp and Kapise village along the Mozambique-Malawi border.

Other findings include:

  • Violence against civilians continues and new refugees are fleeing across the border.
  • Half (53 percent) of the Luwani Camp residents said they or family members were personally attacked in their village. The majority of camp residents came from districts in Tete province.
  • A majority (71 percent) indicated a willingness to return to Mozambique but only after a formal peace agreement between Frelimo and Renamo.

There were 2,351 refugees in Luwani Camp when the research was conducted, of whom 469 were interviewed for the survey. Others participated through group discussions and individual interviews.

Both Frelimo and Renamo forces are likely responsible for human rights abuses in this conflict, but civilians should not be targeted regardless of their suspected or actual political affiliation. Frelimo and Renamo battled each other during a 16-year civil war that formally ended in 1992. Tensions between the parties have been escalating yet again since 2013.

Mozambique is rated Partly Free in Freedom in the World 2016 and Partly Free in Freedom of the Press 2016

Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

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