Pac cautions government on refugees relocation
Cautions on human rights violation
The Public Affairs Committee (Pac) has advised government to attach a human face to the process of relocating refugees from various locations to Dzaleka Camp to avoid violation of human rights.
Pac has warned that while authorities are supposed to uphold the rule of law, violation of human rights may have far-reaching consequences on the country.
Spokesperson of the quasi-religious organisation, Bishop Gilford Matonga, said there are refugees who have created relations and are living in harmony with Malawians while contributing to the country’s socio-economic development.
Matonga, therefore, asked authorities to be professional when conducting the relocation, disclosing that the committee will later conduct an assessment of how the exercise had gone.
He said after that, Pac will present a report to the nation.
He was responding to our inquiry on how the committee of religious leaders was viewing the relocation exercise.
“This is a very critical issue and, as a nation, we need to handle it professionally. We need to respect our courts and at the same time put a human face to the matter. Otherwise, contact and dialogue would be the best so that both parties come to a win-win situation,” Matonga said.
In Mzuzu, businesses were yesterday disrupted in some local markets in Mchengautaba and Geisha townships where armed police officers stormed the areas and rounded up refugees to take them to Dzaleka Camp.
At Mulungu Samana local market, the police, who are jointly undertaking the exercise with officers from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services, broke into a house where three refugees had reportedly been hiding since Friday last week.
While this was happening, other officers surrounded the house as onlookers witnessed the episode with mixed feelings.
Northern Region Police Public Relations Officer, Maurice Chapola, said the police are just enforcing the law and acting on a court judgment.
“We are in the second day of enforcing the law which is there and the judgement which everybody knows. We are doing it professionally and all the refugees are being ferried to Dzaleka,” Chapola said.
Northern Region Police Commissioner Noel Kayira expressed concern, in a separate interview, that some “unpatriotic Malawians” were tipping off the refugees so that they could hide from the law enforcers.
He cited Mpherembe in Mzimba where about nine refugees apparently disappeared with the assistance of community members.
During a press briefing on the night of Friday, Principal Secretary for the National Registration Bureau, Mphatso Sambo, said some refugees were found with Malawi national identity cards and that necessary action would be taken on them.
Minister of Homeland Security Ken Zikhale Ng’oma, who has been insisting on the relocation, claimed there are 552 foreign nationals who are answering war crimes in their countries but “are parading themselves as refugees”.
The relocation exercise started with Lilongwe last week and government insisted it would spread across the country.
Recently, the UN refugee agency, UNCHR, expressed concern over the decision to go ahead with the exercise.
The Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) also condemned the relocation, arguing that the action presented a “gross violation of human rights and international refugee law”.
HRDC argued that refugees are individuals who fled their countries due to reasons such as war and ethnic, tribal and religious violence.
As of yesterday, at least 600 refugees has been rounded up and ferried to Dzaleka, a camp which UNHCR argues is already congested as it reportedly holds people whose number is way higher than the recommended one.
The camp, which was set up to accommodate about 12,000 people is reportedly currently hosting more than 56,000.