Local news and social media monitoring

We are testing how best to use social and local media to keep the aid sector informed about development. Read here the examples we identified in Mozambique during the cyclone response through a partnership with Standby Task Force.

Between 21 to 31 March and again between 3 May to 19 May 2019 Insecurity Insight partnered with Standby Task Force, a global network of digital humanitarians, to monitor local news and social media sources in the aftermath of the Cyclone Idai to see if these sources can provide useful insights on the security context for aid agencies.
See ‘Threat Analysis’ for trends on verified safety, security and access incidents shared by nine Aid in Danger partner agencies and identified in local news and on social media to highlight the typical security events reported from Mozambique.

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Accusations and rumours

Accusations and rumours concerning the aid effort

May 2019: In Beira, Sofala province, authorities responsible for distributing aid to the victims of cylone Idai have been accused of requiring civilians to present membership cards in exchange for aid, in order to prove that they are supporters of the ruling party. The allegations of irregularities in the distribution of aid were advanced by a member of the largest opposition party. Source

10 May 2019: In Zembe, Manica province, police officials stopped and arrested three suspects accused of diverting aid destined for the victims of Cyclone Idai. Source

02 May 2019: The first cases of cholera were recorded a week after Cyclone Kenneth hit Mozambique. Source 

11 May 2019: In Metuge village and district, Cabo Delgado province, an armed group attempted to attack and destroy a local cholera treatment centre, probably motivated by rumours that the centre, rather than treating the disease, is spreading it. The attack was successfully repelled by police officials. Source

Late April – Early May 2019: In several localities across Mozambique, reports have emerged indicating rampant sexual abuse of poor women by local community leaders responsible for distributing aid to Cyclone Idai victims in exchange for food. Source

29 March 2019: Zimbabwe government and Zanu PF officials were accused of distributing aid on partisan lines and of appropriating aid destined for victims of the Cyclone Idai. Source

28 March 2019: Donations of food and generators are being diverted from or not delivered to beneficiaries. Source

27 March 2019: Rumour that foreign organisations bringing food aid are also bringing spies and come to gather intelligence. Source: Facebook 27 March

19 March 2019 (DOA): Reports circulating on WhatsApp allege that false fundraising efforts have been created to take advantage of the humanitarian situation following the damage caused by the cyclone, resulting in the looting of funds meant for helping victims. In response, a government official has called for all donations to be handed over to the Civil Protection Unit, an authority mandated by government to provide protection to the victims of natural disasters. Source

17 March 2019: In Thondwe, Zomba district, Southern Region, Malawi, members of the Area Development Committee (ADC) allegedly created false beneficiaries to steal food supplies meant for civilians affected by Cyclone Idai. Source

Obstructions to aid delivery

02 May 2019: In Nhamatanda district, Sofala province, community leaders are allegedly asking people affected by flooding to brandish their voting cards in order to receive aid, indicating abuse in the distribution of aid for political purposes. Source

27 March 2019 (DOA): NGOs claim that the slow response from the government to their requests for permission to operate in the country has resulted in aid supplies being delayed. Source: Observador

25 March 2019 (DOA): In Mobeira, Beira, Sofala province, local civilians were allegedly prohibited by the local government authority to travel to Beira, where aid is reportedly more easily accessible. Source

22 March 2019: In Buzi, Sofala Province, Indian navy boats seeking to rescue people were confronted by local civilians, who thought the boats contained food supplies. As a result, only one out of the six Indian boats returned to Beira with people who wanted to leave Buzi. Source

Looting, thefts and robberies

Actual and attempted looting, theft and robbery of aid relief

Early May 2019: In Nicate village, Cabo Delgado province, unspecified perpetrators reportedly attempted to raid a food warehouse. Source

22 March 2019 (DOA): In Beira, Sofala province, residents looted a warehouse containing food supplies. Source

22 March 2019 (DOA): In Vaz neighbourhood, Beira, Sofala province, vehicles bringing food into the area were attacked by local civilians. Source

21 March 2019 (DOA): In Beira, Sofala province, fighting broke out after more than a hundred civilians tried to force their way into a municipal building where food supplies were stored. Soldiers guarding the building responded by shooting live ammunition into the air. Source

20 March 2019: In Matacuane neighbourhood, Beira, Sofala province, residents attempted to loot a food warehouse. Police intervened by firing live ammunition at the civilians. No casualties were reported. Source  

Violence against civilians

16 May 2019: In Palma, Cabo Delgado province, militants reportedly attacked and looted a neighbourhood, burning homes and causing civilians to flee. Allegedly, one male person was killed, and another person wounded as a result of the attack.Source

15 May 2019: In Palma village, Cabo Delgado province, unidentified criminals attacked a vehicle and reportedly kidnapped the driver and a female local civil service employee, probably working as a hospital administrator. The perpetrators are allegedly demanding a ransom in exchange for the civil servant’s release. Source ISource II Please note that there are conflicting reports, one referring to an education official who was abducted but they appear to refer to the above mentioned event.

13 May 2019: In Anja village, Mocímboa da Praia district, Cabo Delgado province, ten unidentified armed perpetrators killed four male persons before escaping unchallenged. Source I,  Source II

11 May 2019: On the road between Palma and the Rovuma river, in Cabo Delgado province, suspected militants attacked and burnt two vehicles, one carrying passengers and the other loaded with food and other goods. No injuries were reported. Source ISource II

11 May 2019: On a road close to Chitolo village, Mocímboa da Praia district, Cabo Delgado province, three civilians were reportedly killed while walking down the road. Source

10 May 2019: Near Mapalanganha, on the road between Mocimboa and Palma, Cabo Delgado province, militants allegedly attacked and set alight a truck and two vehicles. Source However, the information on the incident remains unclear. Source

10 May 2019: In Mocímboa da Praia village and district, Cabo Delgado province, suspected militants fatally shot two male civilians. Source ISource II

09 May 2019: In Cabo Delgado province, a person was shot and wounded by unknown perpetrators. Previous to the incident, the victim had apparently cooperated with police authorities in operations against armed groups operating in the province. Source

05 May 2019: Villagers from Licangano, Nguiga, and Ntapula, Cabo Delgado province, pursued a group of seven militants and killed four of them in operations that left two of the villagers injured. Source

05 May 2019: Attacks in Minhanha village, Cabo Delgado province. Three people killed; 100 houses burned. Source The attacks disrupted voter registration processes. Five of the 38 polling stations in Melco district are affected. Source

05 May 2019: Near the village of Napala, Cabo Delgado province, a solider shot a 25-year-old male in both legs related to accusations over use of a motorcycle that belonged to the military. The victim is alleged to have been part of a group of 14 people who helped local people to transport goods. Two girls aged 16 and 17 were reportedly abducted at a river near the villages of Milamba and Miticata. Source

04 May 2019: Attacks in Ntapuala and Banga Velha villages, Cabo Delgado province. A male teacher riding a motorcycle was killed and three people were burned. Source

03 May 2019: Attack in Nicáte/Nacata village, 15 km from Macombia town, Cabo Delgado province, by militants who targeted voter registration materials. The attack occurred the day after a humanitarian food distribution and days after the President visited the area. Some sources suggests that militants ‘responded’ to visit by President Source.  According to one source six people were killed, and several houses burned. Other sources reported no causalities. Source