Government has warned the public against harassing refugees and asylum seekers as they voluntarily relocate to Dzaleka Refugees Camp in Dowa by November 30 this year.
The relocation follows a High Court ruling on August 12, 2022 that threw out an application for a judicial review that was sought by some asylum seekers and refugees stopping government’s order that they return to the camp.
Minister of Homeland Security, Jean Sendeza, said those staying in rural areas must relocate by November 30 while those dwelling in urban areas have to go back in January.
She told journalists during a press briefing in Lilongwe that over 1,000 refugees are now spread across the country and need to return to Dzaleka while others would be moved to Luwani Camp in Mwanza.
The minister has since warned Malawians against taking the law into their hands.
She said State agencies, including the police and immigration officers, would intervene in case of defiance.
“The Malawi Police Service will apprehend and prosecute anybody who wants to take the law into their own hands by harassing or meddling with asylum seekers before, during and after their return,” Sendeza said.
She added that the police will protect the rights of refugees and asylum seekers from violations that include harassment and destruction of their property.
Sendeza said preparations were underway to provide sufficient shelter, security, health and other social amenities for those returning to Dzaleka Camp.
The camp was made to accommodate 10,000 refugees but now has over 50,000 and the ministry has opted to send some of them to Luwani Camp.
The minister also touched on road safety and kabaza taxis, indicating that the police has registered 2,728 kabaza accidents in the first half of 2022.
Sendeza urged operators to register their motorcycles for easy identification when involved in road accidents or theft.
Minister of Information and Digitisations Gospel Kazako urged Malawians to respect the rule of law and the law enforcers.
Kazako argued that all nations that have developed respect the law.
He emphasised the need to respect the police whenever they do their work, warning that failure to do so is a serious crime
Mathews Kasanda is a journalist who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from University of Malawi (The Polytechnic).
In 2015, Media Institute of Southern Africa awarded him the Best Print Media Education Journalist of the Year accolade.
He joined Times Group Newsroom in September 2019.