News / 1 April 2021

Gas extraction worsened already dire situation in the North of Mozambique

Both ENDS is shocked by the dramatic news in the past days coming from Palma, Cabo Delgado, Mozambique. Our thoughts go to those who lost their lives or who are still missing, and their loved ones. Both ENDS is in close contact with our local partners to support them wherever we can. Many people are still missing, among whom members of farmers union UPC.

On the 24th of March, several hundred insurgents attacked the coastal town of Palma in northern Mozambique, located a few kilometers away from the onshore facilities of a US$20 billion gas project led by Total. The exact number of casualties remains unknown but dozens of people, including foreign nationals, are estimated to have been killed in the attack. For years, civil society organisations expressed their fears that the gas project would worsen the situation for local communities in an area that was already facing many difficulties, such as poverty and illegal trade. Since late 2017, the conflict in the area has increased with many insurgent attacks. The conflict has caused over 2,500 civilian deaths and contributed to the displacement of 668,000 as of the end of 2020, mostly women and children.

Broken promises

Local communities have so far not benefited from the gas project, to the contrary. Although the involved gas companies assured that the gas extraction would bring jobs and prosperity for the people in the region, unfortunately fisher folk and and farming communities are worse off than before the start of the project. Many have lost access
to fertile land and fishing grounds and have had to leave their homes. The compensation procedure is unclear and chaotic. When relocating people, the authorities have taken too little account of the social and geographic context, which resulted in fisher folk having been relocated inland where they can no longer fish. Also, conflicts emerged between local people and newcomers as local people had to make their already scarce land available to the newcomers.

Dutch support for the gas extraction

The Dutch government and Dutch companies are actively involved in the Mozambique LNG project. Dutch dredging company Van Oord recently moved its vessels to Palma to work on the offshore gas activities, but pulled back due to the latest attack. The export credit agency of the Dutch State, Atradius DSB, is currently deciding whether or not
to support the massive gas project with a loan guarantee of 660 million USD. It remains unclear why Atradius DSB has not yet provided the support while other export credit agencies from for example the UK, USA and Italy already have. Together with other Dutch NGOs, Both ENDS has filed a Freedom of Information request to get more clarity on the information used in the due diligence of Atradius DSB.

Dutch responsibility extends to the local people

Both ENDS has called on the Dutch government, Atradius DSB and Van Oord to do everything in their power to not only ensure the security of Dutch citizens in the area, but also that of local communities. After everyone is safe they need to think hard if they still want to be involved in this project. Both ENDS is in good contact with the Dutch actors and our local partners to ensure the safety and well being of everyone involved.

More information

Dossier text about the gas development in Mozambique

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