Escalating conflict and a deteriorating food security situation have forced over 300,000 people to flee their homes in northern Mozambique, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) said on Tuesday.

The population displaced from Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province was forced to abandon their crops and has been left completely reliant on humanitarian assistance, the report said.

Displacement of communities has been seen in Cabo Delgado for years now, with the province “experiencing attacks by non-state armed groups” since 2017, it added.

The WFP said the latest violence had forced thousands of refugees across the border into neighboring Tanzania and raised “concerns over the regionalization of the conflict.”

“We are deeply concerned about the unfolding humanitarian situation in Cabo Delgado where conflict and violence have left people without access to food and livelihoods,” said Antonella D’Aprile, WFP’s representative for Mozambique.

“The growing insecurity and poor infrastructure have meant that reaching out to people in need has become harder and now with COVID-19, the crisis becomes even more complex.”

The UN agency said it “urgently needs $4.7 million per month to assist those internally displaced in northern Mozambique.”

“Without additional funding WFP will be forced to reduce food rations as early as December,” it warned.

“The situation is even more worrisome given that Cabo Delgado has the second highest rate of chronic malnutrition in the country, with more than half of children under the age of five chronically malnourished.”

The WFP said that “despite significant operational challenges,” it was collaborating with the Mozambique government “to reach 310,000 people each month in the provinces of Cabo Delgado, Nampula, and Niassa with food, vouchers and nutrition support.”

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