Child Protection Risks and Needs in Cabo Delgado (December 2020) – Mozambique | #tinder | #pof | #match | #sextrafficking | romancescams | #scams



The assessment aims to provide an evidence base for protection and child protection (CP) risks and needs in Cabo Delgado to inform humanitarian planning and to advocate for increased funding in addressing and mitigating the risks.


The humanitarian situation in Cabo Delgado has rapidly deteriorated in the first six months of 2020 due to an increase in violent attacks and insecurity, leading to a significant increase in displacement across the province and a consequent rise in protection risks for the most vulnerable people – including both those displaced and those who remained in insecure areas.

According to the DTM baseline assessment (December 2020), the current situation resulted in the displacement of 669,256 individuals , from which 607,100 internally displaced persons (IDPs) are currently in Cabo Delgado, 59,960 IDPs in Nampula, 1,084 in Zambezia, 978 in Niassa, and 134 in Sofala. The number of IDPs more than tripled since April 2020 when an estimated 172,186 IDPs were identified in the Cabo Delgado province.


The assessment was designed with the help of the Global Child Protection Area of Responsibility and the Global DTM Senior Data Quality Expert, using the Needs Identification and Analysis Framework (NIAF) approach. The NIAF respects the Protection Information Management (PIM) process, and has been adopted by the Global Protection Cluster and Global GBV AoR. The NIAF describes the technical and coordination steps required to identify child protection needs for strategic decision making, and outlines how to analyze proxy indicator data to interpret CP risk (rather than without ethical considerations collect data on under-reported sensitive issues). More information on the NIAF may be found on the CPAoR webpage.

24 CP Specialists Provincial and district-level government, NGO/INGO and UN staff, were interviewed either in person or by phone calls with the help of semi structured interview guides with open ended questions. Questionnaires with single or multiple-choice response options were used to interview 1,337 heads of IDP HH and 111 KI, including local authorities, village and neighborhood chiefs, and other relevant actors in 11 Districts (and 84 localities) of the Northern province of Cabo Delgado, in Mozambique: Ancuabe, Balama, Chiure, Ibo, Mecufi, Metuge, Montepuez, Mueda,
Namuno, Nangade, and Pemba. The prioritization of districts was mainly based on accessibility and numbers of internally displaced persons. 6 districts were not covered by this assessment as they were considered inaccessible due to insecurity at the time of the assessment: Macomia, Meluco, Mocimboa da Praia, Muidumbe, Palma, and Quissanga. It was possible to get qualitative information in the form of phone interviews from CP Specialists KI for Mocimboa da Praia, Muidumbe, Palma, and Quissanga.


Displaced HHs’ predominate concerns regarding children’s health and safety are about access to food (88% of households), access to medicines (52%), education (42%) and healthcare (33%). The main needs of IDPs expressed through KI are as follows: Access to food was the top priority (92% of localities), followed by shelter (88%), drinking water (31%), NFI (23%), and health, hygiene and sanitation (19%). This demonstrates that immediate concerns are mainly about survival and education rather than direct child protection risks, such as violence, neglect, abuse and exploitation. However, it may also signal that there is a lack of awareness about CP risks for children or that these risks are underestimated compared to what are understood to be “immediate survival needs”.

Interviewed CP Specialists mentioned separation, sexual abuse and violence, child trafficking, sexual exploitation, and child labor as the highest child protection risks, followed by physical abuse and violence, neglect, early unions and lack of documentation. Preexisting main CP concerns and violations have been exacerbated or are at risk of being exacerbated by displacement.

Displaced children, especially children with disabilities and children younger than 10 years, are generally at heightened risks to suffer CP violations compared to children from host communities. However, there is a possibility of an increased risk of all forms of violence and crime for host community children due to the influx of people and the subsequent increased population in the communities and scarcity of resources. Teenage girls are most vulnerable to sexual exploitation, early unions.

According to KI, most unaccompanied minors are in Montepuez, followed by Pemba and Ancuabe. Most separated children are in Montepuez, follow by Ancuabe and Nangade.

Most of the separations were unintentional / not planned.
Children the most at risk of separation are children younger than 10 years and children with disabilities. Separation has increased the risk of other CP violations, including child labor, trafficking and physical and sexual abuse and exploitation.

Whereas children would contribute to household tasks and carry out chores already before the emergency, they seem to have become increasingly involved in domestic work and in small informal business to help the family make a living and cover basic needs. CP Specialists raised concerns about the increased number of children, especially boys, who are engaged in street vending.

There is a lack of data on child trafficking, but several CP Specialists concurred that there is anecdotal evidence of trafficking and that the risk of child trafficking has increased, especially for displaced, unaccompanied and separated children, teenage girls and children with albinism. The dire situation, the lack of food and the scarcity of basic services as well insecurity may encourage parents or children to accept offers for children to work away from their homes.

No data is available on the recruitment of children by Non-State Armed Groups, but CP Specialists for the Districts of Quissanga, Ibo and Mocimboa de Praia, mentioned this issue as a serious risk and provided anecdotal evidence.
CP Specialists in Pemba, Ancuabe, Quissanga, Montepuez, Muidumbe, Palma Ibo and Nangade mentioned the risk of sexual exploitation in the form of transactional sex for food and money as a coping mechanism for displaced families. One CP Specialist in Pemba raised the specific concern about transactional sex for humanitarian aid.

Adolescent girls and younger children, as well as girls with intellectual disabilities, are most at risk for sexual abuse. Long distances to fetch water and firewood exacerbate the risk posing a possible risk to women, girls and boys for sexual abuse as well as other CP violations, including abduction and trafficking. Sexual abuse can lead to early unions, where – as CP Specialists underlined – there is a tendency that families agree that the perpetrator marries the girl, if he pays a “fine” to the parents. This practice is also perceived to “save the honor” of the family.

CP Specialists raised concerns that displacement may exacerbate neglect and abuse. Younger children may be left alone in shelters when parents are out to look for income generating activities, try to find food and fetch water and thus expose children to potential risks of violence from strangers.

A high number of households (HH) have a child, or children, living with one or more disabilities. Based on the interviews with displaced households, it is estimated that 32% (428) of households have at least one child with disability3.
Among these 428 households a total of 721 cases of disability were identified, corresponding to at least 10-12% of all children. Walking and hearing were the most common type of impairment, followed by learning, speaking and seeing.
In addition, it is estimated that 3% of households have a child living with albinism Children with disabilities are at special risk during displacement due to mobility constraints, communication and attitudinal barriers, more vulnerable to neglect, stigma and abuse, and are exposed to harm when left without support, since they may not be able to care for themselves, run away from danger or defend themselves in case of attempted violence, as well as face barriers in reporting violations. Specifically, girls with intellectual and hearing disabilities were mentioned to be at an increased risk of sexual abuse. It might also be difficult or impossible for children with disabilities to access food, water and sanitation and basic health services.

Interviews with heads of HH confirm that mental health issues and stress are affecting children living in their households. All interviewed households reported that a child/children in their households is experiencing at least 1 symptom of stress, and heads of HH reported that children suffer from headaches (41%), are withdrawn from family and friends (37%), cry excessively (28%), are startled easily (23%), have changes in appetite or eating habits (21%), new or reoccurring fears (16%), an upset stomach (15%), and nightmares or sleep disturbances (12%).

The limited presence of CP and social services or their current inactivity due to the crisis is likely to have led to significant gaps. According to KIs, the most severe gap is in the provision of mental health and psychosocial services, with only 13 localities out of 111 (12%) having access to these services. Despite the high number of unaccompanied and separated minors, services for the identification of these children are only available in 26 localities (23%) and family tracing and reunification is only available in 28 localities (25%). The provision of services for case management is available in 47 localities (42%), social workers in 50 localities (45%), legal support in 52 localities (47%), and healthcare in 54 localities (49%) is better but remains unavailable in over half the localities assessed. CP experts agree that CP services are insufficient, and that all services are currently overstretched. Generally, services and local resources are limited and may not be able to cover the local population as well as all IDPs.

There are few specialized services for children with disabilities. Children with disabilities use the same services as other children but face many challenges, including difficulties in accessing services and communicating their needs. There is a general lack of special training on working with children with disabilities. In addition, there is a lack of access to assistive devices as well specialized services from government sources/health services.

Most IDPs are provided with shelter, but gaps still remain.

According to local KI, none of the IDPs sleep outside in 62 localities while “a few” IDPs sleep outside in 22 localities, about half of the IDPs sleep outside in 18 localities, “most” in 8 localities, and everyone in one locality. From KI demographic data, the number of IDP children sleeping outside or in emergency shelters is roughly estimated at115,314 IDP children (or 63% of the child population), who are therefore exposed to greater risk of GBV or other forms of violence due to shelter-type.

Walking distances for displaced HH to get drinking water are longer than 500 meters in 43 localities, where approximately 23% of IDP children are currently residing. This poses a potential threat to women and children, especially girls, who, according to KI fetch water in 99, 28 and 13 localities, respectively.

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