Mozambican troops last year reclaimed swathes of lost territory from the insurgents.  Photo: AP

A new outbreak of unrest in northern Mozambique, scene of an insurgency, has forced thousands to flee their homes, according to UN figures and sources in Cabo Delgado province.

An alert from the UN migration agency IOM said recent attacks in the Macomia, Chiure and Mecufi districts had displaced 13,088 people - most of them children - by bus, canoe and on foot.

Mozambique's President Filipe Nyusi confirmed there had been new population movements, but played down the threat and insisted security forces had the situation under control.

"There are a significant number of people who move from one area to another and complain about support," he said, after a meeting with military commanders.

"Terrorists try to recruit in this province, which is why we see these movements," he said.

Revenge attacks

A recent flight of people from the town of Ocua, he said, was a result of revenge attacks after Mozambican and Rwandan forces had thwarted an attempt to kidnap children.

Forces from Rwanda and countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), deployed to Mozambique in July 2021 after years of attacks.

They have helped the country retake lost territory in Cabo Delgado, but unrest continues.

One civil servant in Cabo Delgado, speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity because of government orders, confirmed that the situation had deteriorated.

"It seems they have returned with great fury," he said, of the armed groups behind the attacks.

Seeking refuge

Tobias Miguel, a researcher following the crisis, said those displaced seem to be seeking refuge in the northern town of Pemba or crossing out of the province to neighbouring Nampula.

"We have received reports that terrorists have stopped some cargo trans port vehicles to demand monetary payments," he said.

The secretary of state for Nampula Province, Jaime Neto, confirmed that the National Institute for Disaster Management was seeking to open a transit centre to accommodate displaced people.

Click here to follow our WhatsApp channel for more stories.