Residents bemoan influx of Mozambican refugees


People in the area of Senior Group Village Head Kapise in Traditional Authority Nthache in Mwanza District fear for their lives and property following the return of refugees from neighbouring Mozambique who are escaping a reported fresh outbreak of war in that country.

A week ago, at least 700 Mozambican refugees were reported to have started flocking into the country, seeking asylum in the border district.

Meanwhile, the presence of the refugees in the district has already started taking its toll on the locals in the area as they are forced to share meagre resources, including water, food and natural resources with the neighbours.


“There is a water crisis here as we have been relying on unsafe water for a long time. We only thank God that although such is the case, He keeps us alive but our lives in terms of access to clean water are a mess.

“With the coming in of these refugees, the situation is scaring as we will all be scrambling for the limited and unsafe water resources. I can see life becoming more unbearable,” said Catherine Matera one of the women in the village.

In his remarks, Senior Group Village head Kapise said although they are living at peace with the foreigners, the pressure they are exerting on resources in the area is worrisome.


“The main challenge these people are facing is that of lack of food, that’s in addition to lack of beddings and decent houses to live in with their families. There are 678 people who are in our records who include 104 boys and 164 girls among other people who are here.

“However, there is also a threat to our natural resources as they are cutting down trees in the forests to erect their grass tents where they are living. If you move around in the forest, you will see that a lot of trees have been cut down. However, we cannot stop them as they have nowhere else to go. This is the only place where they are living in peace,” Kapise said.

According to Kapise, the villagers are also finding it difficult to assist the refugees as they too are struggling to find food for their families.

“As you know, we received heavy rains in January which means we did not harvest enough,” he said.

Kapise then called upon the authorities to assist aid to bail out the struggling refugees that are living from hand to mouth.

Meanwhile, the circumstances under which the refugees are living leave a lot to be desired as they have nothing with which to support their lives.

The Mozambicans are currently living in temporary structures made of grass and have no food, clean water nor beddings.

Hygiene has also become a problem as in some camps, over 20 families are sharing a toilet, thereby posing a health risks.

The refugees also lament food shortages, saying they left plenty of food in their home country due to the war between Renamo and the ruling Frelimo.

One of the refugees, who identified herself as Nasineya, told The Daily Times that since they came to Malawi, they have been going to bed without eating.

Said Nasineya: “We are facing a lot of challenges here as we do not have food. As you can see, these children are already starving. Life is really hard. Back at our home we had almost everything such as food and clean water, but now we literally have nothing.

“Our lives are also at risk because there is no access to healthcare services as you can see here there is no clinic and we understand the nearest hospital is at Mwanza Boma.”

Another refugee Rabison Flakson described life in the camps as challenging.

“We are forced to be in this country due to the fight between Renamo and Frelimo. But now our lives have completely changed as you can see in our tents here we have nothing. We cannot go back to Mozambique because our houses were burnt and we lost all our properties.”

When asked what his office is doing to improve the health status of the refugees, Mwanza District Health Officer Raphael Pilingu declined to comment.

“Write whatsoever you want to write. I am not granting you any interview on this or if you want you can call some other people to comment not me,” he said.

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