Many displaced people we met during our two weeks in Cabo Delgado said they also witnessed beheadings and obscene violence.
Their stories made us want to understand the motivations of the insurgents, beyond the narrative of Islamic extremism. Cabo Delgado is rich in natural resources. But if most of the inhabitants still live in extreme poverty, it is the large international companies that benefit from the wealth of the region.
The insurgency has grown around one of Africa’s largest foreign investments, a $ 20 billion natural gas project managed by French energy giant Total. In March, the insurgents mounted a major attack in Palma, where the project is located, prompting Total to suspend its operations.
TotalEnergies told “PBS NewsHour” that it is committed to ensuring that local communities benefit from the project.
The same insurgency preconditions that exist around the gas project are also developing around one of Cabo Delgado’s most infamous industries, mining. We walked through a forest near Montepuez, Cabo Delgado’s main mining area, to access illegal gold and ruby mines. Multinationals, including the British company Gemfields, have bought rights from the Mozambican government to extract minerals and gems from this region.
These miners say the presence of large companies has left them little choice but to dig illegally.