HRDC warns Malawi Govt on relocation of refugees to avoid sparking xenophobia

The Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has warned the Malawi Government to tread carefully on the implementation of its order to
relocate refugees and asylum seekers back to Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Dowa.

The human rights watchdog fears the action may spark xenophobia against the refugees if the government does not handle the matter
carefully.

Last week, the Malawi Government issued a 14-day ultimatum to 2, 000 refugees illegally living outside the camp to return to their base.

The Minister of Homeland Security, Richard Chimwendo Banda, cited national security as one of the reasons behind the relocation of the
foreign migrants from previous and current war torn countries.

However, HRDC chairperson Gift Trapence asked the Malawi Government to ensure that it is not promoting xenophobic attacks against foreigners.

Trapence said the government should make sure that they allow people who have legal documents of doing business and residence to stay.

“Government should adhere to principles of human rights as they are implementing their action.  It is important to comply with international refugees’ law.  Refugees are one of the most vulnerable groups as such government should make sure that  they execute the actions within the laws of this country and international refugee law,” he said.

Earlier on Tuesday, the refugees and asylum seekers who are living outside the camp addressed journalists at Dzaleka Refugee Camp where they pleaded with the Malawi Government to rescind its decision to relocate them back to Dzaleka Refugee camp.

The press briefing followed consultations among the foreign nationals, representatives of the Burundians, Rwandese and Congolese nationals at the camp.

They decried the move as detrimental to their wellbeing, citing security of their investments across the country and poor conditions at the refugee camp.

“We are begging government to listen to us as their children. What we are saying is that, look, we are not against government’s position but if we go by the 28th April deadline, we will not be able to move in time as some of us have businesses, some have houses and other properties. Government should allow us one more year so that we can finish our businesses and go back to the camp,” said Roman Bijangala, a representative of Congolese nationals.

He further urged government to ensure there is a proper plan to ensure property of the foreign migrants is not looted or any migrant suffer xenophobic attack out of the decision.

Kanamula John, a representative of Rwandese community at the refugee camp, said one of the main concerns of the foreign nationals was the challenge of congestion at Dzaleka refugee camp.

“The camp was supposed to house some 10, 000 people but we are now over 40, 000 and the people who are returning will not easily find space. That means more diseases and hardships as the cold season starts. We are pleading with government to review its position. Some of us have married Malawian women and some Malawian men have married refugees. We don’t know what will happen to our children, so this is not a decision that is easy for us,” said John.

But Chimwendo yesterday said while government would consider protecting the investments some of the business persons have made in the country via case to case review of applications, the priority of the government was for every refugee to immediately return to the camp and be accounted for.

“It’s a bad approach to go to the media before approaching us. It’s not just about the business issue, there are other issues we are looking into, we are not chasing them, and we just want them to be where they should be. We had problems in the system then and we are asking them to follow the law and go back to Dzaleka. Those who have businesses and want to bring to attention their special cases, we can handle that it case by case, but they will have to operate from
Dzaleka. They can operate from Dzaleka, let them go to the camp and we might consider their cases,” said Chimwendo.

Chimwendo said government’s view does not amount to discrimination of the refugees and said those who are keen on continuing plying trade should seek proper licenses like all foreign investors.

On the status of the refugee camp, Chimwendo said government was working with UNCHR to address challenges cited by the refugees.

Some 48, 547 refugees and asylum seekers reside in Malawi’s Dzaleka Refugee Camp as of 31 January 2021.

Additionally, 187 new arrivals and 120 newborn babies were registered in the camp.

UNHCR officials have not commented on the matter.

Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :

Sharing is caring!

Follow us in Twitter
14 Comments
newest
oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
GRM
GRM
12 days ago

I recently visited Namasalima in Machinga. Refugees are the hub of the rice scheme there. They have constructed town houses and transformed the area. This laziness will not help us. Let them live and integrate in the society. Some were born here.

Kumz
Kumz
16 days ago

Look at Botswana they don’t accept this nonses.Malawians are being deportes from Theba só why keeping them and overpopulating our beautiful Malawi.Let Paul Kagame take them.

FreedomFighter
16 days ago

One world, one people, one love.
What a beautiful world it would be if all the citizens of this world operated from a point of love.

Mzuzu corner
Mzuzu corner
16 days ago

Some of these people are not refugees. How come they own property are doing big business
Govt needs to be careful with these pipo. Some of them are indeed criminals masquarading as refugees. How come they own property and some have bought land in the rural areas?.

International Migration Expert
International Migration Expert
16 days ago

Hundreds of ‘refugees’ are entering Malawi borders every day. How refugees will Malawi have in ten years time?

Atuganire
Atuganire
16 days ago

They are not even refugees but exploiters. Sell the damn houses and businesses, puis go back wherever you came from nikit. UNHCR repatriate them, aaah!

Atuganire
Atuganire
16 days ago

UNHCR help the refugees to go back home or wherever they can be accommodated Malawi is too small to accommodate them. They are even multiplying 120 newborns
..oooh no! U refugee ndi mavuto ndiye mpakanso ma happy ai boza. Malawi has accommodated them…move them elsewhere. Tired of makwerekwere!

Bentby
17 days ago

There is nothing to negotiate here. This is a straight forward issue. You are a refugee, and you belong to refugees camp, As simple as that. they are rushing to the media just to fish out sypathy. To maintain peace and security govt need to be vigilant on them….

Mckenzie kaunga
Mckenzie kaunga
17 days ago

Law and order is very important in every country, as much as I will not support any move to surpress their right I will all need them to observe our laws so that we should not be a BANANA republic that everyone must do what it preses them. As for HRDC Bravo to stand for defenceless but also look on the opportunities they are taking for the citizens.

Ndafera Nkhande
Ndafera Nkhande
17 days ago

These people came to Malawi as asylum seekers not businessmen and at the initial point in time they registered as refugees. In Malawi refugees are to stay at a camp not to mingle with citizens and their camp has all the facilities available for small scale businesses. The problem with a refugee is that the host country may not be aware of the real reason they run away from their country as some may take politics as a scape goat yet they are criminals. How can a refugee built a five star private dwelling house in area6?

shares
Read previous post:
CHRR demands 30% reservation of public procurement for women

The Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) has faulted the Malawi Government for what it described as a lack...

Close