Home Affairs and International Cooperation ministry officials have ruled out rescinding its decision to open a settlement camp site at Katiri in Karonga, saying this was a cabinet directive.
Hilda Kausiwa, Administration and Operations manager for Refugees Department in the ministry told International Relations Committee of Parliament, that as far as the government was concerned, Katiri was a right place for the resettlement program.
“It is only the cabinet that can rescind the decision,” said Kausiwa.
She said Katiri remains the preferred place to replace Dzaleka Camp in Dowa because of, among other issues, it is a border area therefore suits international conventions.
Kausiwa esaid in the 2017/2018 budget, the government has provided K300 million for the initial phases of site preparation for Katiri in Karonga including an environment impact assessment.
However, this sharply contradicts what Home Affairs and Internal Security principal secretary Sam Madula told the committee recently when he said the government had rescinded the idea to open the settlement camp at the site citing acute shortage of water as one of the reasons.
UNHCR officials on Monday told the committee that the land at Katiri is infertile and that there are only 3, 500 locals in the area who would be outnumbered by the refugees therefore they feared for conflicts between the locals and the refugees.
Kausiwa said the population at Dzaleka continues to grow beyond thecapacity of the area due to the increased influx of asylum seekers.
There are at least 32, 000 refugees and asylum seekers in the country at present according to both the government and UNHCR officials.