Malawi government will soon open a former refugee camp Luwani after request from the UN to help cope with the rising numbers of people fleeing Mozambique.
A Letter from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) requests the government to reopen the camp because of an increase of Mozambicans fleeing conflict in their country.
Over 11000 Mozambicans are in Mwanza seeking asylum as Frelimo is battling Renamo insurgency. It has been reported that the rebels, Renamo have since taken six provinces.
The refugees talk of horror which include killings and rape incidents by Frelimo, the government forces.
UNHCR say the government of Malawi has agreed to reopen the camp.
“Most of the new arrivals, who have been crossing to Malawi since mid-December, are in a single village, Kapise, about 100 kilometres south of Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe. Others are scattered throughout the neighbouring district of Chikwawa. To date, 9,600 people have been registered by UNHCR staff and government workers, but others are waiting to be registered and the total including these is almost 11,500,” said UNHCR spokesperson Leo Dobbs.
According to Unicef, daily arrival rates in Malawi have been growing over the past month. From around 130 people a day before late February we are now seeing around 250 people every day in Kapise. Mozambicans who arrived earlier in the year spoke of having fled deadly attacks on their villages. More recent arrivals have said they were fleeing out of fear of clashes this month between Government forces and RENAMO, the main opposition group, which wants to take control of six northern provinces (Manica, Sofala, Tete, Zambezia, Nampula and Niassa).
Luwani camp previously hosted Mozambican refugees during the 1977-1992 civil war and was finally closed in 2007. Preparations are under way for the move, which UNHCR hopes to start shortly.
“Luwani has more than 160 hectares of space, including forest. Refugees will have better facilities and services there, including health, education, water and protection.
“And, importantly, it will be safer. UNHCR appreciates Malawi’s generosity in hosting so many people. We also reiterate the importance of keeping doors open to people fleeing danger,” Unicef spokeperson said.
. Malawi already hosts some 25,000 refugees, mostly from the Great Lakes region and the Horn of Africa, in a camp about 50 kilometres from Lilongwe – Dzaleka camp – which is full to capacity. Food rations have been cut to 50 per cent since October and resources to assist refugees are limited.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :