Mozambique: Portuguese project promotes protection of displaced children

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Children and young people displaced by war in Cabo Delgado, in northern Mozambique, are set to benefit this year from community social protection networks that the Portuguese organization Helpo is creating on the ground.

They are among some 25,600 people displaced by war in Cabo Delgado, northern Mozambique.

“These networks aim to provide more support to children and young people, but also to their families, so that they can integrate and rebuild their lives,” said Carolina Reis, head of the initiative that the organization not government development is launching in the villages of Mieze, near the provincial capital Pemba.

Most of the expected beneficiaries are children: approximately 19,500.

The Nets for Protection project works by bringing together people from each community who will be alert to vulnerabilities, abuses and cases of exploitation, among other issues, in coordination with institutional actors and local leaders.

It is a “closer look” at displaced children, an additional attention justified by the particular context of flight from violence: “they have left their homes, lost members of their family and their living conditions elements are compromised,” added Carolina Reis.

“Each network has a representative who will travel to Mieze once a month”, for a general assembly of the 14 communities and institutions, such as local administration, police or other authorities, to discuss the situations detected and find solutions solutions.

The emergency school fund, says Helps, will be one of the visible aspects of the project, aimed at the most vulnerable families among the displaced and who leave most children out of school.

“The fund can cover 3,000 children in the 14 communities,” based on the initial amount. “Other support may come later” and the number is likely to increase, said the head of the initiative.

The impossibility of buying school materials and uniforms are two difficulties already identified by the project’s 11 community activists – although the directors of the 16 schools involved have already announced that displaced children do not need to wear the traditional uniform for attending classes.

“Sometimes what happens is families are unable to afford ‘even the minimum expenses,’ because the number of children is large, and so some are left without going in,” he said. – each Mozambican woman having, on average, five children.

Expenses which can also be for school trips or food, high costs, whatever the cost, for those who have lost everything.

This is where the school emergency fund should come into play.

For the time being, surveys are underway to define criteria which will subsequently allow, within the protection networks, to choose which families will benefit from support in each community.

The fund will be used to support school attendance from grades 1 to 12.

Helpo’s initiative also provides initial training in psychology so that each community can be alert to signs of trauma in displaced children.

The idea is to “allow communities to provide support, a sort of psychological first aid”, in the event of problems that a child may present, and then to refer them to the appropriate services.

The “Redes para a Proteção” project is supported by the Portuguese cooperation through the Camões Institute, as well as by Mozambikes and the Galp Foundation, with a total budget of around 180 thousand euros for one year – from January to December 2022.

The initiative follows another action of Helpo in Pemba, the Karibu project, an initiative for the integration of displaced people in schools.

Two blocks of three classrooms each were inaugurated in February in the comprehensive primary schools of Mahate and Sao Carlos Lwanga, Under Karibu.

Since 2017, the natural gas-rich province of Cabo Delgado has been the center of attacks by the Islamic State

There are 784,000 internally displaced people due to the conflict, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and around 4,000 dead.

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