Clashes between Mozambican government forces and Islamist insurgents in the northern Cabo Delgado province have forced thousands of fleeing residents to a coronavirus hotspot, according to the International Red Cross Society (IRCS).

Many have sought refuge in Pemba where IRCS helped build a coronavirus treatment centre, the society said.

This has exposed them to the likelihood of contracting coronavirus, said IRCS head of operations in Pemba, Raoul Bittel.

The militants have been attacking remote villages across the province over the past two years.

The group – known locally as al-Shabab, or the youth – have an Islamist agenda, but they’re building on decades of local frustrations about unemployment, rigged elections, corruption and violence.