Write open letter to President Chakwera appealing for consideration
Rwandan nationals living in Malawi have written President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera, appealing for his intervention in addressing the plight of the refugees who have been ordered to close their small income generating activities and return to the refugee camp.
Trading under the banner of Rwanda Bridge Builders, the Rwandese say the decision by the Malawi Government to relocate them to Dzaleka Refugee Camp has sent shivers in their spines as they fear that this could be part of the plan of the Rwandan Government to destabilize the well settled Rwandan refugees in Malawi.
In a statement issued on Thursday, the refugees claim that the senior security adviser to President Kagame, General James Kabarebe, made a speech in which he said he feared that Rwandan refugees in Southern African Development Committee (SADC) countries were gaining wealth and knowledge that they could end up doing what his generation did in 1990 by fighting their way back to Rwanda to take power.
“He vowed that his government would do everything in its power to stop them becoming a threat (translation of the speech is attached). Rwanda agents in Malawi and the Embassy staff are now busy telling refugees to register and go back to Rwanda,” claim the refugees of Rwandan origin.
They say they are saddened by the decision by the Ministry of Homeland Security to use the 1989 refugee act to order refugees, who have been allowed to live out of the refugee camp during the last 20 years, to dispose of their movable and immovable properties and go back to the camp within 14 days.
“We, the undersigned members of Rwandan political and civil society organisations in exile, would like to convey to you our deepest gratitude for the hospitality that the successive governments and the people of Malawi have extended to the Rwandan refugees living in Malawi for more than 20 years. We thank the Government of Malawi for having taken exception and allowed those who can afford it to live outside of the refugee camp and engage in income generating activities. It was an exception to the Malawi Refugee Act of 1989, which was enacted at the time when Malawi hosted more than one million refugees particularly from Mozambique, some of whom where combatants from RENAMO and thought to be posing a security risk,” they emphasize.
They say while the do appreciate the need for Malawi to actively participate in making the African dream of united continent a reality, they fear that such a decision may interfere with the internal affairs of this country.
“We humbly say African integration will start on how we treat the citizens of other African countries. It is against this background that we, the undersigned members of Rwandan political and civil society organizations in exile, would like to appeal to your excellency to examine with compassion the plight of refugees who have been ordered to close their small income generating activities and return to the refugee camp,” says the letter.
It further says the Rwandan refugees had welcomed the policy that indicated a government intention to roll out Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework in Malawi as the approach was intended to focus on settlement and self-reliance of refugees and to review the Malawi Refugee Act of 1989 to ensure that its provisions are consistent with the International Refugee Law including the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (1951 Convention) as well as its 1967 Protocol and the 1969 OAU Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa (OAU Convention).
In their opinion, this review would guarantee, on a permanent basis, basic rights for refugees in Malawi including freedom of movement and the right to economic activity and would allow local integration of refugees to reduce congestion in the camps, as well as reducing the burden on the State and other agencies.
Additionally, the review would be consistent with the vision of the Abuja Treaty of an African Economic Community with free movement of persons, goods, services and capital and several policy initiatives on Migration and Labour Mobility that have been adopted by the AUC, including the Migration Policy Framework for Africa: Minimum Integration Programme and Action Plan for Boosting intra African Trade (BIAT) and the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA).
“We would like to take this opportunity to thank the people and government of Malawi for the brotherly hospitality and protection that your government has extended to Rwandan refugees to this day. We put our trust in your Excellency’s humanity and spirit of pan Africanism to hear the cry of refugees and reverse this decision that goes against the African legendary values of hospitality, brotherhood, and of the spirit of African Union,” concludes the letter.
There was no immediate reaction from the State House. However, in an earlier interview, the Minister of Homeland Security, Richard Chimwendo Banda, insisted that the relocation was an important exercise in addressing national security issues.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :