As the humanitarian crisis deepens in Mozambique, with hundreds of thousands fleeing a deadly Islamist insurgency, the United Nations launched an appeal on Friday for $254 million.
A group known locally as Al-Shabab unleashed a violent campaign in the gas-rich Cabo Delgado province in 2017 that has since killed more than 2,300 people and forced up to 420,000 to flee, according to the agency.
The UN expects the situation to worsen and warned that 1.1 million people would need help next year.
"We definitely need the international community to act, and acting is acting now. We should not wait," said Valentin Tapsoba, Director of UNHCR's Southern Africa regional bureau.
Thousands of refugees have poured into nearby towns and cities, staying with relatives or have been taken in by strangers, leaving local services stretched to breaking point, warned the UN.
"Shelter is missing, they don't have food, water is a problem. Then you have also sanitation, like latrines, all these are problems," said Tapsoba.
The violence escalated this year and the militants now control swathes of the coast, including strategic ports and cities with gas installations, and have advanced inland.
"Women and girls are at risk of abduction, gender-based violence and exploitation, while boys are at risk of being killed or recruited by armed actors," said Myrta Kaulard, the UN's humanitarian coordinator in the country.
Kaulard said that with needs rapidly rising, humanitarian actors urgently require more funding to scale-up their response across the northern provinces of the country.
“We count on the support of the international community to provide timely funding to ensure that people fleeing violence can access much-needed relief”, she said.