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Grace Chiumia calls for ‘ceasefire’ at Dzaleka Refugee Camp

Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security Grace Chiumia has told Tutsi and Hutu refugees from Rwanda and Burundi at Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Dowa to stop fighting among themselves to avoid turning Malawi into a battle field because of their differences back home.

The minister made the call when she, accompanied by Minister of Information and Telecommunications Technology Nicholas Dausi, graced the official launch of Microsoft AppFactory at the refugee camp, the first time it has been launched at a refugee camp in the world.

Digressing from her official speech, Chiumia said the Malawi Government is greatly disturbed by media reports of infighting, especially between Tutsis and Hutus at the camp, leading to serious injuries and even deaths at the camp, ostensibly compromising the government’s hospitality to providing security and refugee to those fleeing wars from their countries.

“We are here to secure and protect you and when you start fighting among yourselves because of grudges you have against each other back home, we, as hosts, are very disappointed with the behaviour. This must stop forthwith,” Chiumia said.

The Nation of Monday, June 5, carried a story saying the camp risks turning into a fully fledged battlefield for Hutus and Tutsis if authorities continued turning a blind eye to murders and serial attacks at the camps.

But United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) officials and a senior police officer interviewed at the camp on Tuesday downplayed the reports, saying they were blown out of context and that the story the newspaper alluded to was an isolated incident.

On his part, Dausi hailed the Microsoft AppFactory initiative, saying, apart from targeting refugees at the camp to develop critical skills needed to take local ideas to the world and develop application software systems to support areas of education, health, communications and other income generating opportunities, he hoped Malawian youths would also benefit.

Speaking on behalf of UNHCR, Programme Officer-in-Charge for Malawi Helen Mebrahtu said the connectivity project, introduced in March this year, has started benefitting the refugees and host communities, starting with health personnel and teachers who have been given connected mobile phones to support research-based enhanced learning.

The Microsoft AppFactory is a Microsoft 4Africa initiative aimed at equipping aspiring software developers with hands-on experience, while helping them build critical business skills.

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