Antonio Guterres

The United Nations and humanitarian partners are deeply concerned about allegations of beheadings and unverified reports of the use of child soldiers in Mozambique, a UN spokesman said on Thursday.

The allegations in reports of violations against civilians by non-state armed groups and clashes in Cabo Delgado’s Palma District said they occurred since March 24, said Stephane Dujarric, the chief spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

“It is extremely difficult to verify information on these incidents at this time for us, but we are concerned about the situation of civilians who fled the violence and those who remain in Palma,” Dujarric told reporters in a regular briefing.

“Nearly 12,800 people – 43 percent of those 12,800 people are children – have arrived in the districts of Nangade, Mueda, Montepuez and Pemba.” Many more are believed to be on the move in search of safety and assistance.

Displaced people have reportedly been hiding in the bush from attackers after fleeing Palma beginning March 24. Humanitarian partners of the world organization in Mozambique are assisting the displaced people and scaling up the humanitarian response in Cabo Delgado. More than 500,000 people in the province have received humanitarian assistance this year, the spokesman said.

“The United Nations calls on all parties to the conflict in Cabo Delgado to protect civilians.” The crisis is stretching humanitarians in Mozambique. In the first months of this year, before the Palma crisis erupted on March 24, the humanitarians dealt with multiple climate emergencies and the Cabo Delgado conflict, he said.

“Yet, the humanitarian appeal for the Cabo Delgado crisis is currently just 1 percent funded. More resources are immediately required to meet the needs of people fleeing the violence in Palma.”

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