Refugees get injunction against relocation to Dzaleka Camp

On the application of one Abdul Nahimana on his own behalf and that of refugees and asylum seekers, an injunction has been granted court injunction stopping the government from continuing relocating them back to Dzaleka Refugee Camp, whose deadline was April 28, 2021.

A High Court of Malawi order made on Tuesday, April 27 says the injunction is granted pending the determination of the judicial review proceedings “or any further order of the court”.

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On April 1, the Ministry of Homeland Security issued a 14-day ultimatum for refugees and asylum seekers to return to Dzaleka Camp after many of them left the camp to do carry out various businesses in communities sorrounding the Camp.

This was made in line with the Encampment Policy which entails that refugees and asylum seekers should be in their designated camp and that those plying their businesses should do so within the camp.

However, there were reports that Malawians were taking the law into their hands by forcibly executing the government order, forcing the Ministry of Homeland Security ordering that “nobody should attempt to take the law in his or her own hands by robbing them or causing any violence against them as they are returning to the camp”.

“Government will not tolerate any act of violence against our brothers and sisters who have already shown interest to return to the camp within the stipulated period of 14 days from the date of their notification.”

“In the meantime, all processes to ensure that they safely return to their designated camp are going on well,” said the statement signed by Patricia Liabuba.

Before the injunction, the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) and a human rights lawyer warned government against violating refugees’ rights in relocating them to Dzaleka Refugee Camp.

Media reports quotes HRDC chairperson Gift Trapence as saying the refugees consist individuals who have businesses and owe Malawians who supply goods to them; hence, the need to give them time to resolve such issues.

“HRDC is not against moving the refugees to the camp, but rather we are urging the government to carefully implement the order to ensure that it also safeguards their rights,” Trapence is quoted as saying.

“When executing the order, they should also carefully look at the socio-economic rights as well. HRDC doesn’t want to see scenarios where people are taking advantage of grabbing refugees’ assets or ransacking them.”

Writing on his Facebook page yesterday, human rights lawyer Chrispine Sibande said it was important to discuss the matter, stressing that one area of the discussion is comparable analysis of how refugees are treated in other countries.

He said: “Yes, we have Malawians who sought refuge in other countries claiming persecution back home on political matters and some cultural practices. How do other countries treat refugees? Do they allow them to do large and small-scale businesses?”

Sibande said the bottom line is that most of the refugees being targeted are doing small-scale businesses and they can be categorised as poor and vulnerable.

He said in such regard, it brings in light Section 20 of the Constitution which prohibits discrimination in the country, adding that from the look of things, refugees are being discriminated against on the basis of their status in the country.

While wondering why the country opted for a blanket ban on the refugees instead of giving them permits to do some businesses, Sibande said refugees have rights like every other human being.

He wrote further: “I wish this matter went to court so that we Malawians settle this matter of refugees for once and for all. Looks like we have no clear policy on how we treat refugees and things keep changing from one government to another.”

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2 years ago

Dzaleka is way much better that to go back home.

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