By Vincent Gunde
A human rights organization on good governance, the Millennium Information and Resource Centre [MIRECE], has advised the Government of Malawi to listen to the voices of reason and act in time to avoid the situation refugees and asylum seekers are sailing through today.
The MIRECE said Dzaleka Camp in Dowa was designed to accommodate 10,000 refugees and asylum seekers and had it been that Government listened to the voices of reason in time to relocate the refugees to other districts, today’s situation could have been avoided.
The organization said it is sad that over 300 refugees and asylum seekers who include women and children are being kept at Maula Prison in Lilongwe and from there they will be relocated to Dzaleka Camp, a camp which is already full with no space for one to build a shelter as their population is between 70,000 to 80,000 people.
The organization’s Director Reverend Flywell Somanje, has appealed to the Government of Malawi to relocate these refugees and asylum seekers either in Karonga or Nsanje districts other than Dzaleka Camp in Dowa district claiming that the hosts communities are in panic of hosting them.
Reverend Somanje said with the highest population of refugees and asylum seekers at Dzaleka Camp, the camp will be a home of increasing cases of theft claiming that the UNHCR which used to give them enough money and food, stopped and they are getting a little which one cannot support them in the daily life activities.
He lamented that the UNHCR conducted a survey on refugees population inside the Dzaleka Camp but the results are being kept secret for fear of exposing the truth that there are over 80,000 refugees and asylum seekers in Malawi and more are still coming in everyday using unchartered routes either to the camp or direct to the urban centres to join their families, relatives and friends.
The Reverend has claimed that the UNHCR is receiving huge amounts of Dollars in the name of supporting refugees and asylum seekers but very little is going to them advising it that if care and support is not there, it is better to take them back to their countries of origin especially in countries where there is no war.
He said Dzaleka camp is too small to accommodate the entire population of refugees and asylum seekers claiming that already the hosts communities have no land for farming as most of their land is in the hands of foreigners, environmental degradation is high and overcrowding saying this has forced the refugees to settle in the nearby Besela and Mpalankhwali villages.
….’’If we cannot care and support them through relocations to other districts in Malawi, the better is that they should go home to their countries of origin, Dzaleka camp is in Dowa in Malawi which is not there country of origin too,’’….said Reverend Somanje.
The Malawi Police Service [MPS] in the wee hours of Wednesday raided shops and houses accommodating refugees and asylum seekers in Lilongwe, closing business premises in Kawale, Area 36, Area 49, Area 25 and Mgona Township following the expiry of the deadline which was 15th April, 2023 for all to relocate to Dzaleka Camp in Dowa district.
The Government of Malawi already warn refugees and asylum seekers that failure to relocate to the Dzaleka Camp, it will use force in the ‘’ Operation Mchotsa ma Burundi ‘’ which is being jointly conducted by the Department of Immigration, Malawi Defence Force [MDF] and Malawi Police Service [MPS].