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Portugal embarks on a rescue mission in Mozambique

People wait on the outskirts of the seaport of Pemba on March 30, 2021 for the possible arrival of their families evacuated from the coasts of Afungi and Palma   -  
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ALFREDO ZUNIGA/AFP or licensors

Jihadism

The Mozambican city of Pemba, capital of northern Cabo Delgado province, awaits the arrival of potentially thousands of people who fled an attack by Islamic State-linked militants on the town of Palma near the Tanzanian border. But several thousands of people remain behind, looking for a way out of the conflict.

The Islamic State group on Monday released a video purporting to show fighters near the strategic north eastern Mozambique town of Palma, as the militant group claimed it had taken control of the area after five days of conflict.

Following gruesome reports of violence in the city, Portugal has decided to send soldiers to Mozambique to support security forces

_ "The mission is in the final planning phase and, therefore, in the coming weeks, we expect to have support on the ground, in Mozambique, about 60 Portuguese military personnel, experienced, competent, knowledgeable, who support Mozambique in the formation of special forces ,"_ said Augusto Santos Silva, portuguese foreign affairs minister.

But according to Dewa Mavhinga, Human Rights Watch, Director, Southern Africa, such international support is already too late, as refugee camps keep growing in The Mozambican city of Pemba.

"The time is actually overdue for the international community to mobilize for this. And also, unfortunately, the regional community, the Southern African Development Community and the African Union have not prioritized this crisis. It is escalating. The attacks are intensifying, becoming more sophisticated. And indeed, there is now need for the international community to come together to ensure that this is brought to an end. Otherwise, there is a huge risk that it could spread to other parts of southern Africa very quickly."

For now residents of Pemba keep arriving by plane with gruesome reports of killings. Many remain to this day, unreachable.