The Youth And Society (YAS) has called on stakeholders investing in refugees and asylum seekers in the Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Dowa district to always remember that there’s the hosts community that live with them.
YAS said refugees live with members of the surrounding communities who also face similar challenges as those of the refugees when it comes to access to education, healthcare and livelihood.
Speaking during a stakeholders’ meeting which brought together the hosts community through their chiefs on human rights issues held at Mponela in Dowa district, YAS Executive Director Charles Kajoloweka noted with a great concern that there’s a gap in terms of participation by the hosts community.
Kajoloweka said there is no meaningful participation of the hosts community observing that these are people directly impacted by the refugee situation in the Dzaleka Camp and are not benefiting from the services which are being offered to refugees and asylum seekers.
He said his organization finds it important to engage Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) operating in the Camp and community chiefs to listen to them and create a platform to raise voices on issues that affect them as hosts community.
The Director said there will be no progress in the welfare and plight of refugees if they live behind the hosts community saying they must be taken to frontline participation in the policy, law reform and all the discussions that are emerging in the Dzaleka Camp.
He said it is necessary to include the hosts community as deliberate efforts by government and stakeholders to facilitate law reform or policy enforcement saying there are quite a number of policy positions that government has been enforcing but lately, it has sparked diverse interest among actors and CSOs.
“There is a gap in terms of participation by the hosts community, there’s need to create a platform to raise their voices on issues affecting them,” said Kajoloweka.
He said it is very encouraging to note that government will review the 1989 Refugee Act to align with efforts on international human rights standards and the Bill of Right expressing hope that if all is done, the hosts community will not only benefit but to contribute to the entire process of law reform and policy re-enforcement.
In his remarks, one of the attendees of the meeting Maxwell Kadutsa, thanked YAS for its efforts towards advocating for refugees’ rights in Dowa district saying the interface meeting will see to it that the services which are being offered in the Dzaleka Camp are enjoyed by both the refugees and hosts community.