Caring for those caught up in one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises

The Leprosy Mission is caring for those caught up in one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

National Director Peter Waddup says his colleagues in Mozambique are risking their lives each day to care for the country’s most vulnerable as the insurgency intensifies.

Since 2017 the people of Cabo Delgado, Mozambique’s most northerly province, have faced escalating violence from men with guns and machetes attacking communities.

More than 2,000 civilians have been killed and homes destroyed. The UN is reporting that more than 530,000 people have fled Cabo Delgado – a quarter of its population - as a result of the violence.

The recent hardship is compounded by climate change, hunger, homelessness, leprosy and, now, the widespread South African coronavirus variant.

Peter said: “We are in touch with our colleagues in Cabo Delgado daily and the situation is desperate.

“I had the privilege of visiting our projects in Cabo Delgado three years ago. Hearing the current horrifying situation truly breaks my heart.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Leprosy Mission staff risking their lives each day to help those affected by leprosy. These are people who are all too often disabled as a result of not being cured of leprosy fast enough.

"Mozambique is ranked among the world's poorest countries with two thirds of the population living under the poverty line of US$1.90 a day. People affected by leprosy are always among the poorest and are often shunned by society because of prejudice surrounding the disease.

“Tragically it is typically people affected by leprosy that cannot flee a village under attack. This is either because they don’t have the financial means or because their disabilities prevent them from escaping.

“It is utterly heartbreaking.

“Our colleagues are working with churches in Cabo Delgado to support those left homeless and traumatised by the violence.”

The people of Cabo Delgado mainly survive through subsistence farming. It is currently what is known as the ‘hungry’ season ahead of the harvest in Mozambique.

“Many farmers are still recovering from the devastation and flooding caused by Cyclone Kenneth and Cyclone Idai in 2019,” Peter said.

Churches and individuals across the UK are supporting the Unconditional Appeal, which will help build Community Hubs, or Hubs of Hope, from which to lead the fight against leprosy and provide a beating heart to communities.

Farmers are learning how to protect their crops from extreme weather at the Community Hubs as well as sell surplus produce to provide an income.

Peter said: "There has never been a more pressing need to welcome everyone in the community to a Hub of Hope. Together they can work together to create healthier and more prosperous communities."

The Unconditional Appeal has been awarded UK Aid Match funding meaning all donations made by 24 April are doubled by the UK government.