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Geneva Palais Briefing on the situation of children in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique

This is a summary of what was said by UNICEF’s Marixie Mercado– to whom quoted text may be attributed – from Pemba, Mozambique, to today’s press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva


UNICEF teams were at Pemba airport yesterday to receive children evacuated from Afungi by UN Humanitarian Air Services. There were at least seven children on that plane who were completely alone. All the children are disoriented and afraid. Many had spent days hiding in the bush without food and water.

“There were some terrible scenes. One injured girl, around five years old, was carried off the plane moaning in pain. We can’t confirm her age, because she was so traumatized all she could say was her first name.

“At Pemba Provincial Hospital, local authorities are doing their utmost to care for injured children. One 13-month-old, who was with his mother, had been shot in the bottom. The bullet is lodged in his leg. Surgery is expected to take place today.

“We’ve already received word that more children are coming. We don’t know how many. But together with local authorities we are preparing for them here in Pemba, as well as in other parts of the province where we know they are likely to go to. They will need everything absolutely – protection, nutrition, health care, and someone to listen to them, and give them psychosocial support. Unaccompanied children need to be reunited with their families.

“There were already approximately 350,000 children displaced by the armed conflict in Cabo Delgado – even before Palma. It was already an acute crisis. There’s a cholera outbreak underway. COVID-19 is spreading. People here have dealt with one shock after another – including cyclones and extreme weather events, since 2019. With the world’s eyes now focused on the situation in Palma, UNICEF’s appeal to everyone is: don’t forget Cabo Delgado’s children.”



UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.

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