Almost all state institutions in Mozambique’s northern Cabo Delgado province remain shut, about a month after jihadist attacks in the area were brought under control.
The situation is considered serious in Palma district, the only area in which civilians have been allowed to return, of the several that have been recaptured from jihadists by joint Mozambican and Rwandan forces.
The few people who have had the courage to return to their homes have found a scene of destruction and a heavy military presence.
“I had fled to Quitunda and when I returned to the village of Palma, about a week ago, I found only military personnel and all government buildings destroyed and closed,” said Sufo Assane, one of the first returnees.
Besides the absence of the state institutions, many families who have returned to the recaptured areas are food are facing hunger and are surviving through the help of others who found some produce in their farms.
“Since we arrived here, we still haven’t received help from the government and we eat cassava and sweet potato leaves that we are being offered by people who have managed to recover some produce from their fields,” Bacar Macotcha explained.
Some small traders have resumed their businesses including selling basic foodstuffs, but there are few customers as most families have little money to spend.
Another concern is accommodation, with some still sleeping outside while waiting for an opportunity to rebuild their destroyed homes.
The people have also been complaining about the lack of healthcare in Palma.
“The hospital is closed and we don’t have any nurses. When someone is sick, they go to Quitunda, about 15km (nine miles) from here,” said Aissa Momade.