PARIS, France — TotalEnergies has responded to a complaint filed for “manslaughter and a failure to assist people in danger" during the attacks that took place in the Cabo Delgado province in northern Mozambique in March 2021.
The company, which says it was not given access to the complaint, has rejected accusations concerning the conflict, which it also points out pre-dates its offshore-related gas development in the region, Mozambique LNG, and is linked to many unconnected factors.
On March 24, 2021, the attack took place on the town of Palma, close to the Mozambique LNG project at the Afungi site, with the Islamic group Al-Shabaab subsequently claiming responsibility.
The attack against the civilian population lasted for several days, claimed many lives and caused part of the civilian population to flee the area.
TotalEnergies said Mozambique LNG implemented required emergency measures, including the evacuation of a large number of civilians, also providing emergency aid, medical care, food and water to those sheltering in the entrance to the site.
In addition, Mozambique LNG assisted the Mozambican authorities by supplying fuel for the evacuation and rescue operations, with the runway at the Afungi site used by the authorities and international organizations operating in the area to evacuate people by air.
Mozambique LNG medical teams were mobilized to provide emergency medical assistance to injured civilians who were evacuated by air and sea from the site, and the site’s hospital was also made available. In total, Mozambique LNG evacuated more than 2,500 people, including chartering a ferry for this purpose.
Part of the complaint concerns TotalEnergies’ alleged refusal to supply fuel to the South African private security company DAG, which Mozambique’s government had contracted in 2020 by the government of Mozambique to undertake offensive, military security missions against terrorist groups in the north of the country. Government forces provided security at the Afungi site.
During 2020, various NGOs reported serious crimes against local people purportedly perpetrated by DAG, TotalEnergies explained, and for that reason Mozambique LNG decided it would not support offensive military operations performed by DAG. However, it did provide assistance for rescue operations conducted under the authority of the government security forces.
The evacuation plan implemented in March 2021 after the attack on Palma involved all personnel working at Afungi site, including Mozambique LNG’s contractors and their subcontractors. Early that year, following the intensification of a terrorist threat, employee numbers at all these companies had been significantly reduced, with the remaining mobilized personnel accommodated at Afungi and instructed to remain inside the site at all times for security reasons.
With the security situation in the region worsening, Mozambique LNG decided to withdraw all personnel from the project at the Afungi site, declaring force majeure in April 2021.
TotalEnergies stressed that the government of Mozambique is responsible for restoring security as a sovereign state. Thanks to the government actions that followed, with the support of the South African Development Community and Rwanda, the situation has improved significantly in Cabo Delgado since 2021, and terrorist activities have lessened substantially.
Mozambique LNG continues to monitor the security situation and has commissioned several audits that have confirmed the improvement.
As to the decision on when to restart the project, that will depend on the ability to complete the development under good security conditions, TotalEnergies said. Current activities on site are limited to bolstering security infrastructure and improving access roads.
In addition, Mozambique LNG is undertaking socioeconomic initiatives to promote local economic development and improve stabilization of the area, as part of the Pamoja Tunaweza initiative.