Malawians flee xenophobic attacks in Tanzania

Scores of undocumented Malawians who have been resident in Tanzania started arriving home on Monday with the few possessions they could carry as they ran away from beatings and confiscation of their property by Tanzanian security forces.

Many Malawians are stranded as they do not have transport home, but they face the risk of being beaten and raped if they are women, witness told Nyasa Times in Mzuzu.

A total of 1,030 Malawians were netted in a clean-up operation code named (Hurricane in the Swahili language) against illegal immigrants.

Last month Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete ordered the expulsion of “illegal immigrants” and “criminals”, amid heightening diplomatic tension with the Rwandan government over the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Some of the Malawians who have  fleed xenophobia attacks in Tanzania, back in the northern region
Some of the Malawians who have fleed xenophobia attacks in Tanzania, back in the northern region

During the operation some 25,000 illegal immigrants from Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) were sent back home.

The Malawians that have come so far pulled the few resources they had and boarded buses home.

As the news of the distraught and traumatised Malawians filtered in the northern region city of Mzuzu, also home to thousands of undocumented Tanzanian business persons, shops at the popular business hub of the Tanzanians popularly known as Taifa market closed at 10 am.

The Hardware market at the city centre also followed suit. Armed police are patrolling these places to deter looters.

A man who only identified himself as Mazunda, who had wounds on his left hand said the situation for foreigners including Malawians was deteriorating by the day.

Another woman, who had three children, and a small bag, claimed she was raped by seven Tanzanian men.

Ironically almost all those that have come so far are from Nkhata Bay District.

They auctioned the few valuable items they had brought with them and hired minibuses home.

Unconfirmed reports indicated that two Lorries are enroute to Mzuzu with more Malawians.

The development comes barely two weeks after the Tanzania government refuted media reports that Malawians living in that country were being targeted in xenophobic attacks amid tension over the lake boarder wrangle.

But Tanzania’s Director of Information Services, Assah Mwambene quashed the reports.

Director Church and Society of the CCAP Synod of Livingstonia Moses Mkandawire blamed the Malawi government for failing to create opportunities at home hence triggering massive emigration.

“I do not condone Malawian living illegally out there. We have seen what happened in South Africa, In UK many illegal Malawians are in detention centres awaiting deportation,” said Moses Mkandawire Director Church and Society of the CCAP Synod of Livingstonia.

However, Mkandawire bashed the PP led government for failing to make contingency plans to protect Malawians after it got wind of the imminent xenophobic attacks.

“Our interest should have been the welfare of our people. Malawi should emulate Israel on the way it takes care of its citizens even one person,” Mkandawire said.

Nevertheless his Boss the General Secretary Reverend Levi Nyondo described as  bad and inhuman what happened.

“How can they chase our people like dogs? They should not forget that we have many illegal Tanzanians here,” Reverend Nyondo said.

The Cleric then asked the two governments to immediately engage in talks to avoid calamities.

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