By Hajira Khota
Human Rights Watch stated that an armed group affiliated to the Islamic State (ISIS) has kidnapped and enslaved more than 600 women and girls in Mozambique’s northern Cabo Delgado region since 2018. Some of them have been rescued by Mozambican and regional authorities, but many more are still missing.
Mozambican and international forces sent to help settle the unrest that has wrecked devastation in the region since October 2017 have freed some of them.
According to government and UN agencies, more than 800,000 people have been displaced. To calm the unrest, some 3,100 African, European, and American soldiers have been sent to the Cabo Delgado area since July. Earlier this year, it was found that militants were beheading girls as young as 11 years old.
Moulana Nazeer Loonat, Islamic scholar in Mozambique who spoke to Radio Islam International; he says that the majority of the refugees are Muslims. Nazeeb says that this is a concern as the government has not solved this issue.
According to Human Rights Watch, some of them have been rescued by Mozambican and regional authorities, but the locations of many more are unclear.
Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said that between September 2020 and April 2021, it received more than 2,600 requests in Mozambique from people who had lost track of family members, the majority of whom were young adults and children.
Zunaida Marchado, Researcher of Human Rights Watch says that the conflict is spreading to other areas. She also mentions that the most recent kidnappings of women took place after Rwanda as Mozambican forces claimed to have taken control of the region.
“Women across the region are still in danger. At this stage it is very concerning as the Mozambican government have not done anything about women and children being kidnapped”.
Abducted foreign women and girls, in particular, have been released after their families paid ransom.