Malawi government’s plan to decongest Dzaleka Refugee Camp by relocating refugees and asylum seekers to a new camp in Karonga has not faltered; and, the department of refugees says it is optimistic all requisite processes should be done within the next three months.
Dzaleka Refugee Camp was designed to shelter 10 000 people but it presently accommodates 51 500 refugees and asylum seekers which means it has exceeded its capacity by over 41 000.
Initially, especially in 2018 there had been resistance from community members, including civil society organizations (CSOs) and traditional leaders after government laid bare its desire to relocate the refugees and asylum seekers to Katiri in the lakeshore district.
But Secretary for Defence, Kennedy Nkhoma, who is also Commissioner of Refugees, said the plan was on course and government was turning back.
“Congestion poses health and security risks,” Nkhoma said on Tuesday when his team appeared before the Parliament’s Committee on Defence and Security on Tuesday so the latter could appreciate progress so far as regards the relocation exercise.
According to Nkhoma, the exercise sloganeered as a result of delays to finalize the land acquisition process.
Ralph Jooma, committee chairperson, and the members admitted that overcrowding at Dzaleka posed health hazards to the residents and, therefore, urged Nkhoma and team to expedite the land acquisition matter.
“What has transpired in their presentation is that the biggest obstacle has, so far, been the finalization of the formal acquisition of land,” Jooma said.
The committee admitted that overcrowding at Dzaleka posed health hazards to residents.