• Crisis Severity ?
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Impact ?
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Humanitarian Conditions ?
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Complexity ?
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Access Constraints ?
    No constraints
    Extreme constraints

Key figures

  • 10,302,000 People affected [?]
  • 1,036,000 People displaced [?]
  • 265 Fatalities reported [?]



In October 2017, an Islamic extremist armed group started launching aggressive attacks on civilians in the northern province of Cabo Delgado. The attacks have continued into 2021, causing insecurity and displacement within the province and displacement to the neighbouring provinces of Niassa and Nampula. The armed group, known as Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama, is involved in an increasing number of violent incidents, including incessant attacks on civilians, government forces, and military installations. Their activities are concentrated on the coast of Cabo Delgado, spanning from Pemba city to the Tanzanian border. The Government’s response to these attacks has led to further human rights abuses. Government forces have detained journalists for covering events in Cabo Delgado and subjected civilians suspected of supporting the armed group to searches, looting, and arbitrary detention.?

Between April 2020 and April 2021, the number of IDPs in the three provinces more than quadrupled, from 172,000 to over 732,000. As at February 2022, the number of displaced people had risen to 784,000. Around 72% of the displaced live with host communities, while 28% of them are in IDP camps. Since 2020, increased violations against civilians, including killings, beheadings, and kidnappings, have been reported in Cabo Delgado.?

There is an urgent need for food, shelter, health, and protection. An estimated 1.5 million people in the three provinces need humanitarian assistance and protection.?

Latest Developments


In 2023, northern Mozambique is facing a critical humanitarian situation, with at least two million people in Cabo Delgado, Nampula, and Niassa requiring life-saving and life-sustaining assistance and protection. These needs arise from the impact of armed conflict, violence, and insecurity in the area. The number of people in need has increased by 25% compared to 2022. More than half of those in need are children, and over 60% of affected adults are women. Nearly 1.7 million people are facing acute food insecurity because of violence and displacement. Those in need require protection, food, health services, education, WASH, shelter, and NFIs. ?

Humanitarian Access



Humanitarian access constraints in Mozambique are high and mainly refer to the situation in Cabo Delgado, where violent insurgency continues to obstruct the effective delivery of and access to humanitarian aid in the province. Aid agencies that wish to operate in Cabo Delgado need to go through a complex approval process. This impediment has limited the number of agencies operating there since many do not obtain clearance.

Mozambican security forces have enforced travel restrictions into some dangerous areas of Cabo Delgado, such as Palma district, with harsh penalties for those who do not adhere to the restrictions. Because of attacks by insurgents, residents of Cabo Delgado cannot move freely within the province. Civilian facilities, such as schools and hospitals, have been targeted since the insurgency escalated in 2017. There have been instances where aid agencies temporarily suspended their operations given the volatile security situation.

Military intervention by the Rwandan and Southern African Development Community Military Mission troops, which began in July, has led to reduced insurgent attacks. This situation has contributed to an improvement of the security situation and humanitarian access. The Government has regained control of some areas, such as Mocimboa da Praia town. As the security situation has improved, the Government has allowed aid agencies to access and deliver aid to Palma for the first time in six months in September.

Read more in the latest ACAPS Humanitarian Access Overview.

Palma attacks


On 24 March, a nonstate armed group launched a violent attack on Palma city, Palma district, in Cabo Delgado province. By June, military operations were still taking place in some districts of the province. The security situation remains volatile. ?

Following the attacks, the number of IDPs in Cabo Delgado has increased. IDPs were hosted by relatives or friends or stayed in displacement camps. As at 13 July, nearly 104,635 people were displaced from Palma district; 77% lived within host communities, and 23% resided in one of the 29 displacement sites across Cabo Delgado (in Ancuabe, Chiure, Metuge, Montepuez, Mueda, Nangade, and Pemba districts). As at 2 April, authorities have suspended humanitarian evacuations by air from Palma (pending further clearance). As a result of the suspension, the armed group targets civilians who try to flee to other areas by road or sea. ?

Those who remain in Palma district urgently need humanitarian assistance. IDPs need access to food, shelter, and health services. There is also a need for psychological support for displaced individuals, separated families, and unaccompanied minors.?

Key Priorities


Shelter/NFIs: As at June 2021, at least 125,774 IDPs were living in 34 displacement sites across eight districts in Cabo Delgado. In nearly 30% of the sites, IDPs have not received shelter assistance. Almost 10,000 IDPs, primarily in Metuge district, do not have access to emergency shelters and are sleeping outdoors. IDPs also urgently need blankets, clothes, and mosquito nets. ?

Food security: Escalating violence and displacement have worsened the food security situation in affected areas. Over 800,000 people in Cabo Delgado, Niassa and Nampula provinces face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Emergency (IPC Phase 4) levels of food insecurity for the period from November 2021 to March 2022.?

Protection: Continued and increasing levels of conflict and displacement have resulted in protection needs. Overcrowding in shelters and a lack of livelihood opportunities increase the risk of sexual exploitation and abuse. Women and girls are at particular risk of kidnapping, rape, forced marriage, and forced prostitution.?

Health: 33% of health facilities in Cabo Delgado have been damaged or destroyed as a result of the conflict. This has reduced the capacity to detect and respond to disease outbreaks, including cholera, measles, and COVID-19. At least 778,000 people need healthcare for HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis treatment. There is a need to ensure the continuity of sexual and reproductive health services, as well as gender-based violence prevention and response services. ?

Healthcare under siege in Cabo Delgado


Data storytelling and visualisation of level of damage to health facilities 

In December 2022, the majority of health facilities in northern Cabo Delgado remained either partially or fully damaged, with the majority non-functioning. Armed groups have targeted hospitals and health centres multiple times, with attacks ranging from the destruction of buildings to the looting of medicine and health supplies. The attacks on civilian infrastructure are part of a campaign against the state of Mozambique to set up an Islamic state in the region. 

Explore the full story in an interactive format.