Black locals left for dead after terrorist attack in Mozambique as white contractors rescued first

Survivors of an attack from Islamist insurgent group Al-Shabaab in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado reported a blatant prioritization of white contractors over Black locals in evacuation efforts, leaving even Amnesty International in a state of disbelief.

helicopter 

Roughly 220 civilians sought refuge in the Amarula Palma Hotel in Palma during an attack that started on March 24 and lasted for a week. Estimates indicate that there were about 200 Black nationals and 20 white contractors.

South African private military company Dyck Advisory Group rescued some from the hotel via helicopter, but reportedly left the vast majority of Black locals to fend for themselves after prioritizing the rescue of the white contractors.

Amnesty International interviewed 11 people who sought refuge in the Amarula hotel and reports that they all said the hotel manager and DAG operatives prioritized the safety of white contractors over local Black people during the rescue attempts.

While the white contractors were given preferential treatment and were prioritized for evacuation, the Black nationalists were essentially abandoned and left helpless at the mercy of the insurgents.

Witnesses even reported a prioritization of the hotel manager’s dogs, which were airlifted to safety, ahead of the lives of Black people. This sends a chillingly horrible message that the lives of the Black nationalists were somehow less valued than those of literal dogs.

The seeming prioritization of white lives over Black lives raises many concerns. If there had not been any white survivors, would there have been any rescue attempt at all?

“We didn’t want all white people to be rescued, because we knew that if all the whites left, we would be left there to die. We heard them talking about the plan to take all the whites and leave the Blacks,” one survivor told Amnesty International.

“Terrified locals knew that the rescue of white people first would mean they were abandoned to face ‘Al-Shabaab’ by themselves,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and Southern Africa.

When they were not rescued via helicopter, those left behind were forced to risk their lives attempting to escape in a convoy of cars, which was ambushed by the waiting insurgents.

Survivors say they were then forced to hide in the woods for days before being transported via two boat trips from Quelinde to Afungi. The first trip took 60 survivors, including any remaining white contractors, while the second took about 70 Black people.

The nature of the rescue attempts and evacuation methods in Palma are incredibly alarming as Amnesty International asserts that the approach was “inhumane.”

It is very concerning to think that race was a leading factor in determining who was most worth saving. The prioritization of some lives over others based on skin color, especially when those at stake are completely vulnerable, is nothing short of egregious.

“Abandoning people during an armed assault simply because of the colour of their skin is racism, and violates the obligation to protect civilians. This cannot go unanswered,” said Amnesty International’s Deprose Muchena.

Noah Pitcher is a global politics correspondent for Today News Africa covering the U.S. government, United Nations, African Union, and other actors involved in international developments, political controversies, and humanitarian issues.

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