The people of north Malawi border district of Karonga have declared success after their resistance campaign gainst the reallocation of Dzaleka refugees camp to Katili area in the district forced the government to put on hold.
Karonga residents led by Karonga-Chitipa Heritage as well as Karonga Youth for Justice and Development (KYJD) blocked the idea on Monday during the consultative meeting with Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security Grace Chiumia.
Speaking during the meeting, Secretary for Karonga-Chitipa Heritage Wantwa Mwahimba said government should not deceive the Katili community that the area will develop with the coming of the refugees camp.
“Should we say that this government cannot develop the area if the community deny the camp?” wondered Mwahimba.
“Our concern is security to our business and properties because most of these people are terrorist or ex-soldiers,” he added.
Others wondered why government want to give north Malawi “development of refugee camps” when southern region gets good infrastructure including hospitals and universities.
“Send the refugees to Thyolo or Phalombe if they want a border district let them go to Nsanje, Mwanza, Mulanje or Ntcheu,” said a Mwakikunga who did not disclose his first name opting to say he is ‘Trump’.
In her response, Chiumia said 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 and assured thet they will provide maximum security to Katili area.
The minister further said that the coming of the refugees in the district will be temporarily as government will repatriate them soon.
However, KYJD executive director Steven Simsokwe wondered why government plan to reallocate the camp if it will be indeed temporarily saying “let the refugees stay at Dzaleka and repatriate them from there.”
Former ambassador Sofie Kalinde and chairperson for Karonga-Chitipa Heritage told the minister to look for another district, saying Karonga should not be a dumping area.
Karonga Central Constituency MP Frank Mwenefumbo said there is no need to reallocate the camp to the district because it is over populated.
“Spare us this please,” said Mwenefumbo.
After seeing templare flaring, nMwenefumbo asked Chiumia and her team to go outside the room for some minutes to let me the community cool down.
In their indoor meeting, Paramount Chief Kyungu who was in support of the reallocation of the camp pleaded with his irate subjects to be lenient , saying the minister will complain if she will go back with a ‘NO’ answer.
They then agreed to let government take some residents to Dzaleka and other refugees camp such as Uganda to see themselves the badness as well as goodness of the camp.
Nyasa Times understand that the decision was just to ease the minister because the community already denied the idea of reallocating the camp.
After coming back in the meeting, Chiumia pleaded with Nyasa Times correspondent in Karonga to write the story fairly because of its nature.
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.
About 27 000 refugees will be transferred from Dzaleka to Katili which lies north west of Karonga, about 15 kilometres away from the boma.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :