Karonga people declare victory as Malawi govt put decision of relocating refugees on hold

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.

Minister Chiumia speaking to MP Frank Mwenefumbo
Minister Chiumia speaking to MP Frank Mwenefumbo

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.

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5 years ago

Leave the refugees in Dowa after all we can already see the benefits in terms of agricultural productivity in the area which is also feeding Lilongwe. The Karonga people are always problematic and they feel tbey are an independent state. Let them remain with their misguided arrogance.

Bristone Mabichi
Bristone Mabichi
5 years ago

Thanks Frank and all your company for refusing refugee development. This is silly, you develop the area because of keeping refugees. Kagwere, …!!

5 years ago

I agree with relocation considering that Dzaleka is nearest to capital Lilongwe how can we keep people whose identity is unknown near the capital. Let me condemn those who at first decided to put refugees near capital.

5 years ago

They want to be taken to Dzaleka and other refugee camps in other countries to appreciate the benefits? Basi, relocation yatheka. These so called civil activists angofuna podyera. Akangowaika ban mkamwa, basi tidzamva, “we are 100% convinced the refugee camp will be beneficial to Karonga people”. Please, the best way to appreciate the benefits is to interact with ordianry residents surrounding the camps. Go and ask citizens around Dzaleka if (with their experience) they would wecome the refugee camp if they were given a choice!

5 years ago
Reply to  Karrim

This will not happen, there will be no eating of bans here. Reading through the article, it was a diplomatic way of saying NO. The Karonga people have vehemently refused the move. No one will go to Uganda but Dzaleka and find out from the communities there. But the basic thing is that there is clear evidence the move is a dangerous one and the people of Karonga are very much aware about it.

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