Karonga chiefs visit Dzaleka refugee camp, maintain opposition on relocation to Katili

A group of Karonga Group Village Headmen (GVHs) revolted against Paramount Chief Kyungu on issues concerning the relocation of a  refugee camp in Karonga, on Sunday inspected Dzaleka refugee camp in Dowa to prove if the area is developed as preached by Kyungu and government.

The Karonga chiefs at Dzaleka: Not convinced

After inspecting the area, the group led by Principal GVH Mwangolera said they can’t allow what they saw at Dzaleka to be in Karonga district.

“Those who came here at first betrayed our community. They said the area has good houses, big hospital and schools but what we have seen here is totally different. This area is like a deserted place of which we shall not allow to be in Karonga,” said the chiefs.

The group also wondered how the Karonga residents should trust the UNHCR and government that they will develop Katili and the surrounding area if they fail to develop Dzaleka refugee camp which has been there for almost 22 years.

“The people here are facing a lot problems but government and UNHCR are promising development for people of Karonga, its unthinkable,” they wondered.

After, Dzaleka refugee camp in Dowa, Member of Parliament (MP) for Karonga Central Constituency Frank Tumpale Mwenefumbo who also financed the two days trip, took the group to appreciate New Parliament building and Kamuzu mausoleum.

“I am happy that the chiefs have seen  themselves and I believe they will tell their subjects the truth. However, I will also take another group of  women and men as part of what I promised during consultation,” said Mwenefumbo.

Some refugees at Dzaleka who spoke to Nyasa Times that they are facing a lot of problems at the area that include hunger and threats to cholera,  other water and airborne diseases.

They further said that there is no good relationship between the surrounding community and refugees at the camp.

Government want to start the project next month and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) representative Monique Ekoko said 27 000 refugees will be transferred from Dzaleka to Katili.

According to Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security Grace Chiumia, the decision to relocate the refugee camp follows a concern by government that the camp at Dzaleka was near Lilongwe, the capital city, a development that compromises the country’s security.

“Malawi is one of a few countries in Africa that has a refugee camp close to the capital city, a development that raised fear on the security of the nation. Government decided to relocate the camp to a border district where most of the refugees pass through,” she said.

Chiumia assured the people of Karonga that the process is beneficial because water points and school blocks will be constructed and Katili Health Centre rehabilitated.

Katili lies north west of Karonga, about 15 kilometres away from the boma.

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Rwanda is busy constructing a new state of art international airport while Malawi is busy constructing a refugee camp for the Rwandese in Malawi. So, Malawi is a landfill or haven for the less privileged in other countries. The answer is no. A number of officers (police, immigration etc.) have dubiously enriched themselves through this issue of refugees.


Thanks to my wise chiefs for such a bold decision against Kyungus decision. We dont want greedy chiefs who cannot think for their subjects – never allow a refugees camp at Katili, nor anywhere else in Karonga or North of this country

Mbuzi ya Munthu

I totally agree with you To bias . The two groups (government and UNHCR) can and should not be trusted . Onl a few months ago the media was awash with stories of refugees being sold or at least to have been moved with money changing hands to some foreign countries like Australia and UNHCR was to blame and the government of Malawi seemed to have known what was happening but decided not to do anything at all why does this government like short cuts? why don’t they pass such issues through Parliament to get support from that Institution?.

Truth be told, it is not right to say that bringing refugees to Karonga has any advantage to the people of Karonga. To begin with, Refugees at Dzaleka are dangerous people. They kill themselves and members of the surrounding communities. You can readily find this information from police and communities around. They put a lot of pressure on natural resources including land and forests. Most forests have suffered serious deforestation because of refugees. They cut a lot of trees to construct their shelters and for cooking. The place is a health risk as there is no proper waste management in… Read more »

It is high time refugees should go back to their home countries. Wars are over.

Thanks to my wise chiefs for such a bold decision against Kyungus decision. We dont want greedy chiefs who cannot think for their subjects. Leaders must analyze issues holistically before coming to a conclusion. Discuss issues exhaustively and weigh the prons and cons of what the issue will bring by looking at the back, now and the future. Mwangolera and your fellow chiefs, God bless you. Government has failed to bring development long way back. I wonder now that, they can have audacity to say that, they would bring development . Which development and for who? Should Karonga people get… Read more »
Jombo Mwaching'unya

Lilongwe has not been affected with insecurity for the past 22 years. Why should it be affected now? What effort is UNHCR making to resettle the refugees back home where there is peace and prosperity ie Rwanda which you cannot compare to poor Malawi?

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