Refugees and asylum seekers who are running successful businesses have pleaded with the Malawi Government to consider integrating them, assuring that they are prepared to use their human and financial capital to help in transforming the socioeconomic strata of the country.
One of the concerned refugees, Bantubino Leopord, a 59-year-old Burundian refugee currently residing and running his businesses in Mchinji, expressed fear that the resultant congestion at Dzaleka Refugee Camp could expose them to coronavirus disease (Covid-1) pandemic and other waterborne disease due to lack of safe and clean drinking water at the facility.
On Monday morning, Leopord telephoned Nyasa Times to share the trauma his family has suffered following the publication of the order from the Ministry of Homeland Security to relocate them to their designated camp.
“I have stayed in Malawi for the past 27 years. And I have always regarded this country as my home. But since the order was issued to relocate us, our host communities are hurling all sorts of insults on us; singing ‘Obwera Paulendo’,” he said.
However, Leopord emphasized that he would not want to challenge the decision by the government to relocate them, but simply to express fear is that the prospects of the refugees and asylum seekers living a decent life at the camp is remote.
He said if they can be integrated, the enterprising refugees and asylum seekers will pool together their human and financial resources towards the social and economic development of the country.
“Besides the businesses we are running, we are people of diverse skills and knowledge, which we can use to build and develop this nation together. Hence, we are appealing to the authorities in the Malawi Government to integrate us in communities we are already living instead of constricting us to a camp that was designed to carry not more than 10, 000 immigrants,” he said.
Another refugee, John Byamchana, said refugees and asylum seekers have always been grateful to the Government of Malawi for providing them the opportunity to flourish in their personal endeavours and allow refugee children study in public schools from primary to the university albeit against Article 22 of the Refugee Legislation.
Byamchana further observed that the Government of Malawi has allowed qualified refugees to work in some domains such as health and education to the point that some became leaders in some institutions.
“By this, the article 17 which forbids refugees to work in Malawi, as well as Act 24 linked to it stipulating that the same refugees cannot save for social security after retirement, lost power. The Malawi Government made it easier to refugees to do business by issuing certificates of business registration; Business premises license as well as MRA [Malawi Revenue Authority] machines for tax paying calculations. With this, there was a clear modification of Act 19 forbidding refugees to do business and Act 13 denying them the right to own important possessions,” he narrated.
He also commended the government for upholding the refugees’ right to form and run churches and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) contrary to the law.
“We could not be in NGO and cooperatives before. But the government issued citizenship to some of us contrary to what existed before with Act 34 of the same refugee regulation law,” said Byamchana.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :