UN Temporarily Halts Evacuation Flights In North Mozambique
Pemba, Mozambique, April 3 (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 4th Apr, 2021 ) :The UN agency World food Programme said Saturday it has suspended evacuation flights from northern Mozambique's Afungi peninsula over security concerns, a day after French energy giant Total shut its operations in the area.
Mozambique's north has been ravaged by an escalating Islamist insurgency since 2017 and last week deadly attacks in the town of Palma, 10 kilometres (six miles) from Afungi, killed dozens and displaced tens of thousands.
The World Food Programme has been helping airlift the most vulnerable people affected by the violence to the provincial capital, but since Friday has temporarily halted the flights.
"Due to the deterioration of the security situation, we have for the time being temporarily paused evacuation flights from Afungi to Pemba with the UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS), managed by WFP," spokeswoman Shelley Thakral told AFP.
She added that WFP is also working closely with the government to carry out regular "minute-by-minute" security assessments to determine when it will be safe to resume the flights.
According to the International Organisation for Migration, another 23,000 are estimated to be still around Afungi, which is under military protection.
An official with Doctors Without Borders told AFP that the global medical charity had evacuated its team from Afungi "due to the deterioration of the security conditions".
And a military source in the capital Maputo told AFP on Friday that Total had decided to evacuate all its staff after drone surveillance showed insurgents were in areas "very close" to the gas plant in Afungi.