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Wealth inequality blamed for northern Mozambique conflict

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Anger about the distribution of wealth is being blamed for violence that has killed at least 2,600 people and displaced close to 700,000.

Video Transcript

HARU MUTASA: 26-year-old Noel David says he has a university degree, but he can't find a job. He's applied to the gas companies operating in northern Mozambique. But it's been one rejection after another.

NOEL DAVID: (THROUGH INTERPRETER) I think there's some kind of discrimination going on. These companies hire very few Mozambicans from Cabo Delgado Province. Most of the good jobs and money goes to the foreigners and government officials. Even jobs for mechanics and electricians, they don't hire many of us.

HARU MUTASA: Cabo Delgao Province in Northern Mozambique is where most of the major gas discoveries have been made in recent years. But the region has high levels of poverty and inequality.

When rubies and gas were discovered here, many people thought it would mean jobs and a better life. But that hasn't happened. Instead, the poor are feeling more and more marginalized and say only a small elite in Mozambique are benefiting.

The country's president, Felipe Nyusi says the ISIL-linked local armed group that calls itself al-Shabaab is manipulating disgruntled youth and recruiting some of them as fighters. But Viriato Rungu says he's not giving up on himself or his country. The young farmer wants to grow his business and create jobs for other young people.

VIRIATO RUNGO: (THROUGH INTERPRETER) The war is very complicated. We don't know who these fighters are. They don't show their faces. They don't say why they are fighting. I want to focus on improving myself.

HARU MUTASA: A perceived failure to distribute vast mineral and offshore gas revenues to the local population could be fueling the conflict. Until this is addressed, analysts say it's unlikely the conflict in Cabo Delgado Province will end any time soon. Haru Mutasa, Al Jazeera, Pemba, Mozambique.