There is a generalized panic” among the population, and fear of new attacks by terrorist groups, even in Pemba, the capital city of the province of Cabo Delgado, according to Father Kwiriwi Fonseca, a member of the communications team for the diocese of Pemba. He was being interviewed by the Portuguese national office of the international Catholic pastoral charity and pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN International).
He was speaking about the way the people react whenever they hear shooting, even when this comes from the areas where the government soldiers are quartered and engaged in military training exercises. Father Fonseca believes we must find a way to help the people overcome this sense of constant anxiety. “Whenever they hear the sound of a gunshot, or shooting of any kind from the Army training camps, people immediately start to panic and come running out of their homes… And so the government, the NGOs and the Church are going to have to start talking intensively and constantly about peace and security, because there really is a great deal of fear.”
This is the reality, even in the streets of Pemba, a town which is in effect the main bastion of the government security forces in the entire region. The fear that Father Fonseca is talking about is fed by rumor, which turns every unfamiliar movement, every unusually loud sound, any isolated gunshot, into an imminent attack. “People have to learn that in a situation of war such as we are facing, they have to avoid passing on news if they are not absolutely sure about it. They have to stop spreading false news and avoid falling victim to rumors. This is important,” he insists.
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