MORE than 6,000 Mozambicans have fled to neighbouring Malawi since mid-December to escape clashes between government forces and armed militants of the main opposition party Renamo, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency.
Most of the refugees are coming from the western coal-mining province of Tete, where government forces are battling armed militia of the Mozambique National Resistance, or Renamo, Tina Ghelli, UNHCR’s spokeswoman for southern Africa, said by phone on Friday from Pretoria, the South African capital.
“The number of people fleeing Mozambique has been increasing because of the clashes between Renamo and government forces,” Ghelli said. “The asylum seekers told us this.”
Almost all of the new arrivals are staying at Kapise village, about 100 kilometers (62 miles) south of Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe, UNHCR said in a statement on Thursday.
Mozambican government officials have visited Kapise at least three times since mid-January to discuss the possibility of returning the asylum seekers to Mozambique, according to the statement.
Renamo and the ruling Front for the Liberation of Mozambique, or Frelimo, fought a 16-year civil war that ended in 1992. Frelimo won the country’s first democratic elections two years later. The party has ruled the southeast African nation of 26 million people since the country’s 1975 independence from Portugal.
Cabinda wants independence
Meanwhile, in the second Lusophone country in southern Africa, rebels in Angola’s oil-rich Cabinda region said they’re resuming an armed campaign to gain independence for the enclave after the government failed to respond to its request for talks.
The Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda, which has waged a low-level insurgency for autonomy for more than three decades, will adopt the “military way” until President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos’ administration agrees to “serious and concrete” dialogue, according to a statement published by Portuguese news agency Lusa.
Angola, Africa’s second-biggest crude producer, pumps most of its 1.75 million barrels a day from off the coast of Cabinda, which is separated from the country by a sliver of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda came to prominence in January 2010, when it claimed responsibility for killing two members of the visiting Togolese soccer team during a tournament.
The Angolan government in July 2010 agreed to talks with the rebels after the separatists agreed to end their armed struggle.
Calls to the headquarters of the Angolan Armed Forces weren’t answered when Bloomberg sought comment on Friday.