Mozambique reports dozens of cases in diaspora

Jose Tembe

BBC News, Maputo

The Mozambican health authorities say there are 48 coronavirus cases in the diaspora.

The national director of public health, Rosa Marlene, says the new cases were reported last week.

Meanwhile, two Mozambicans living in South Africa had recovered from the virus.

The total number of recoveries in the diaspora are now 18. Six other people have died from the virus, leaving 24 active cases.

Ms Marlene said the latest information was from the foreign affairs ministry.

She urged those in the diaspora to follow the measures put in place by local governments to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Mozambique has in the last 24 hours recorded 25 new cases of the virus bringing the total to 1,582 including 11 deaths.

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Coronavirus fears for Mozambicans fleeing militant attacks

Jose Tembe

BBC News, Maputo


A top official in northern Mozambique has warned that the arrival of large numbers of people fleeing militant Islamist attacks has made it difficult to introduce measures to stop the spread of coronavirus.

At a press conference on Monday, Cabo Delgado province's Armindo Ngunga said the new arrivals in Pemba had to resort to living in severely cramped conditions, making it impossible to practise social distancing.

Instead, he advised people to stay outside their houses during the day because of the overcrowding and said that the government could provide people with face masks to wear on the streets.

Cabo Delgado provincial capital Pemba shelters most of the people displaced by the jihadist attacks occurring since October 2017.

The simmering militant Islamist rebellion erupted into open warfare earlier this year, with reports of massacres, beheadings and the brief seizure of two towns.

The UN estimates that 250,000 people abandoned everything and sought refuge in safer areas from a conflict that has, so far, killed about 1,000 people.

Those who have fled are badly in need of humanitarian assistance, including proper housing, food, health and clothing.

The poor level of water supply to Pemba, is another challenge for combating Covid-19 - something Mr Ngunga said the government was working on.

Covid-19 returnees land in Mozambique from Portugal

Jose Tembe

BBC News, Maputo

A Tap plane taking off in Lisbon, Portugal - 10 July 2020
Getty Images
Commercial flights are still banned from landing in Mozambqiue

About 160 people stranded in Portugal since the beginning of April because of coronavirus restrictions have returned to Mozambique aboard a special flight.

All international commercial flights to Mozambique were suspended under a state of emergency imposed to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The ban remains in place but this special flight put on by Portuguese airline Tap was allowed to land on Thursday night.

Some of the travellers told Mozambique's independent television station, STV, that while they were happy to be back home, they were not pleased about the cost of the flight.

The one-way ticket had cost more than 1,600 euros ($1868, £1,458).

The high fare had prevented others from returning, they said.

Most of the returnees said they had been in Portugal either for medical treatment or for education.

Mozambique leader stands firm on coronavirus rules

Jose Tembe

BBC News, Maputo

Students at Sussundenga Secondary School in Sussendenga, Mozambique - archive shot
Getty Images
Schools will have to ensure social distancing before re-opening

President Filipe Nyusi dashed the hopes of Mozambicans hoping he would ease restrictions imposed at the beginning of April to stop the spread of coronavirus.

In his speech to the nation on Thursday evening he made it clear that fro now it remained compulsory to wear face masks in public and the ban on all meetings attended by more than 20 people - including sporting, social or religious activities - remained in place.

He had come under strong pressure from religious groups to allow the reopening of churches and other places of worship.

Some religious dignitaries even threatened to boycott discussions on a draft law on religious freedom unless places of worship were re-opened.

But the president did not bend, stressing that religious services remained suspended until churches could provide safe and hygienic conditions for their worshippers.

He said the same went for schools, which were supposed to start a phased re-opening on 27 July.

The president stressed the need for schools to be able to guarantee adequate water and sanitation, and the conditions to ensure social distancing.

While this does not specifically rule out some classes for final year secondary students resuming at the end of the month, it now seems most unlikely to happen.

Hundreds of Mozambican miners return to South Africa

Jose Tembe

BBC News, Maputo

Miners gather in the Wonderkop settlement in Marikana, near Rustenburg, on 15 May 2020
Getty Images
Thousands of Mozambicans work in South African mines

A group of 300 Mozambican miners have returned to South Africa to resume their jobs.

Most of the mine workers had been forced to return to their country because of coronavirus restrictions.

This is the second group of Mozambican miners to be called back to South African mines in less than 10 days.

The first one, of more than 200 miners from AngloGold Ashanti, returned to South Africa a week ago, but are in quarantine for 14 days to ensure that they are free of Covid-19.

Juca Bata, the spokesman for Mozambique's National Migration Service said all miners were tested for Covid-19 before departure and will also be tested on the South African side.

About 12,000 Mozambican miners, mostly from the southern provinces of the country, work in South African mines.

South Africa shut down mines across the country in March as the government announced a nationwide lockdown. The restrictions have since been eased.

South Africa pardons and deports Mozambican inmates

Jose Tembe

BBC News, Maputo

South Africa has pardoned and deported 183 Mozambican prisoners from overcrowded prisons as part of efforts to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

The country has so far confirmed about 280,000 cases and 4,000 deaths.

The deportees arrived on Monday through the Ressano Garcia border post, Mozambican state-run newspaper, Noticias, reports.

This was the second group of Mozambican prisoners deported from South Africa in a bid to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

The first group of 439 was repatriated in mid-May. Two of them had tested positive for the virus.

Dogs 'unearthing children's graves' in Mozambique

Jose Tembe

BBC News, Maputo

Stray dogs in Mozambique have been digging up dozens of graves at a children’s cemetery in the city of Chimoio, residents have told the Miramar TV station.

One mother said that a few days after recently burying her child, she had gone to clean the grave, only to find that the dogs had already unearthed and eaten the body.

The report showed scattered pieces of clothes, bones and human flesh littering the cemetery.

If a family cannot afford a coffin, bodies are often wrapped in a blanket or plastic sheeting.

The Miramar reporter told the BBC that over a period of a week 343 children’s graves had been dug up by dogs.

Residents said the dogs had become a daily hazard, with the situation becoming worse in recent months as fewer people were visiting the cemetery because of coronavirus.

The pandemic also meant that people had lost their income, so might not be feeding their animals.

The fact that the graveyard was unkempt and not fenced off was another problem, the residents said.

The authorities in Chimoio, which is the capital of Manica province near the border with Zimbabwe, were not available for comment about the situation.

Mozambicans flee clashes between army and Islamists

Jose Tembe

BBC News, Maputo

Many people are fleeing the port town of Mocímboa da Praia in northern Mozambique following intense fighting between the army and Islamist militants.

Some are leaving in boats, while others are hiding in the bush.

Helicopters and heavy weapons have been used, causing significant casualties on both sides.

Government troops are trying to dislodge the jihadists, known as al-Shabab, from the town which they have seized for the second time this year.

The Islamic State group claimed the first attack.

At least 700 people have been killed and tens of thousands displaced by the insurgency which began in the gas-rich province of Cabo Delgado two-and-a-half years ago.

Residents of Mocímboa da Praia in 2018
Mocímboa da Praia is in the troubled Cabo Delgado region

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Coronavirus: Mozambique extends state of emergency

Jose Tembe

BBC News, Maputo

Mozambique's President Filipe Nyusi has extended the country's state of emergency for another 30 days but relaxed some measures seen to be hurting the economy.

Stringent restrictions that have affected tourism, sports, trade and labour will be relaxed, he said in a televised address.

The country's airspace would also be opened to friendly countries - but he did not list them.

Classes in primary and secondary schools will resume in phases, while public transport vehicles will be inspected more.

The president said colleges and universities will also reopen in the next 30 days, but must adhere to safety measures that will be announced by the government.

This is the third consecutive 30-day extension of the state of emergency.

Mozambique has so far confirmed 859 cases of coronavirus and five deaths.

Mass grave with militants 'found in Mozambique'

Jose Tembe

BBC News, Maputo

Map of Mozambique

A mass grave with the bodies of Islamist militants has been discovered by Mozambican security forces in the northern Cabo Delgado province during recent operations against insurgents, a defence ministry press release says.

It is assumed that the bodies belong to insurgents killed by government forces in March, when the group first invaded Mocimboa from the beach.

The government statement says that in addition to the discovery of the mass grave, soldiers killed six militants and recovered weapons, including a firearm, ammunition and medicines.

According to photographs and videos published by the defence ministry, the insurgents had been dressed in military uniforms.

The ministry’s press release says the military operations are aimed at attacking, assaulting and ultimately dismantling the militants' base.

A militant group known locally as al-Shabab has spent the past two years operating in the shadows, attacking remote villages across the province, ambushing army patrols on isolated roads, instilling terror in many rural communities, forcing perhaps 200,000 people to flee from their homes.

Mozambique has heightened operations in the northern region following an increasing number of attacks, some of which the Islamic State group has said it is behind.