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Bishop receives death threats for speaking in defense of the voiceless

People, particularly children have to be defended from violence and and the influence of armed militias, says Luiz Fernando Lisboa, Bishop of Pemba in Mozambique's northern region.


The internal challenge that the Mozambican Government has to face doesn’t really hit the headlines. As we reported on 13th of April, Islamist armed groups threaten the northern parts of the country.

Speaking to Vatican News, Bishop Lisboa, whose Diocese of Pemba, falls under the Province of Cabo Delgado has said poverty in the area is one of the significant causes leading young, disillusioned and vulnerable Mozambicans into the hands of violent groups. Some of the gangs operating the region have links to Islamic extremists. 

As a result of his outspokenness, the Brazilian-born Bishop Lisboa has received criticism and even death threats.

As Bishop Lisboa noted, the response of the central government is unsatisfactory. What makes the recent situation even more complex, is that the attackers are hard to identify.

“The hidden enemy has no face, no proposal, no interlocutor with whom one can talk,” he added. 

As a result of growing poverty and economic decline, extremists have slipped into the country. Expelling them now will take a far greater effort then if the matter had of been prevented some years past.

It is the same factor that Bishop of Pemba alludes to when he is speaking about years of neglect of the northern territories by the central Government as one of the contributing elements to the poverty and disenchantment leading young men to join gangs.

With the discovery of offshore gas fields, such as in the Rovuma basin, the people of Cabo Delgado have become the target of a real invasion of all types of people from different backgrounds, companies and projects. Generally, such wealth should generate employment and hope for the youth of the area, by sharing the benefits that result from the gas find, the Bishop told Vatican News.

The plight of the people in Cabo Delgado has not escaped the attention of Pope Francis. Concluding the Easter Urbi et Orbi message, the Bishop of Rome prayed: “May Christ, who has already defeated death and opened for us the way to eternal salvation, dispel the darkness of our suffering humanity and lead us into the light of His glorious day.”

Mozambique: increasing jihadist movement endangers the Southeast African country

Photo is courtesy of Flickr.

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