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Mozambique moves to repatriate climate change ‘refugees’

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The voluntary repatriation of about 1,600 Mozambican families, who fled from Tropical Storm Ana, is expected to start this month.

Director for Prevention and Motivation at the Mozambican National Institute for Disaster Risk Management (INGD) César Tembe told Mozambican Independent Daily that the repatriation seems urgent, further wondering why the people have stayed in Malawi for six months.

Mozambican officials met with their Malawian counterparts last week and agreed that Malawi should finalise registering all the Mozambican families to be repatriated, including heads of households, their dependents and place of origin, among other things.

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“The data will facilitate the process of organising all the necessary logistics so that people can be repatriated. On Wednesday, the Malawians asked the Mozambican delegation about the withdrawal of the refugees instead of providing, at this stage, food and utensils,” Tembe is quoted as saying, adding that this will help the Mozambican government support the displaced people.

Tembe said INGD will support the displaced people in reconstructing houses, farms and whatever else is necessary.

Morrumbala District Administrator João Nhambessa is separately quoted as saying the country has allocated 2,300 plots of land to the repatriated households.

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The Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma) also confirmed that Malawi and Mozambique have been having a series of meetings, focussing on the repatriation exercise.

“We initially had 2,500 households but, now, there are about 1,617 [households] in the country. In March we started decommissioning camps but we have maintained those where some of the people are from Mozambique.

“What is remaining is for us to verify the households and, all things being equal, the repatriation process should start by the end of this month,” Dodma spokesperson Chipiliro Khamula said.

Malawi has been supporting the people with both food and non-food items including, recently, 850 bags of maize to families being accommodated at Bangula Camp in Nsanje District.

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