The government has announced that it will go full throttle relocating refugees and asylum seekers from all parts of the country to Dzaleka Refugee Camp from December 1.
The government set November 30 this year and February 1 next year as deadlines for those residing in rural and urban areas, respectively, to go back to the Dowa-based camp.
Briefing reporters in Lilongwe Thursday, Homeland Security Minister Jean Sendeza said her ministry has already engaged the Treasury to provide K300 million required for the exercise.
According to the ministry, there are about 8,000 refugees and asylum seekers spread across the country.
“We have six days left before the November 30 deadline. I wish to notify you that the government will commence with full enforcement of the matter after the lapse of the deadlines given,” she said.
Sendeza said that the Ministry of Finance committed to provide the needed funds for the exercise
“My ministry takes into consideration Section 9 of the Refugee Act, 1989, which stipulates that “any person granted refugee status under the Act shall be subject to the laws of Malawi, jurisdiction of the courts in Malawi and to all measures taken for the maintenance of public order,” she said.
Sendeza said the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has committed to use $58 million [over K58 billion] to rehabilitate Luwani Refugee Camp, which will help decongest Dzaleka Refugee Camp.
“As we continue with the relocation exercise, I ask for some patience from all stakeholders as this is an ongoing process. In the same vein, I appeal to the general public to refrain from getting involved in issues of refugees, especially those [issues] related to the exercise,” she said.
Malawi has been hosting refugees and asylum seekers from Mozambique, Rwanda, Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo and other countries since 1970’s.
Dzaleka Refugee Camp, which was designated for 12,000 people, is now hosting over 50,000.
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.