By Blessings Mpinganjira
Small scale traders have commended government for its decision to return all refugees and asylum seekers scattered across the country back to Dzaleka Refugee Camp.
On Thursday, Homeland Security Minister, Richard Chimwendo Banda, ordered asylum seekers and refugees living and operating businesses outside Dzaleka Camp to return to the camp within 14 days of notification.
The action by the government on the back of outcries by some small scale business operators in the country who have been pressing the government to address the influx of illegal immigrants who conduct businesses in the country.
Chairperson of the grouping in Lilongwe, Joseph Kwangwana, expressed gratitude to the government for heeding their call.
“We are happy that the government has finally listened to our concerns and we will be keenly following the developments on the matter,” he said.
Government has made the decision in line with the Encampment Policy which requires all refugees and asylum seekers to ply trade within the camp premises.
“Our research has discovered that over two thousand refugees and asylum seekers are illegally residing and doing businesses in rural communities,” said Chimwendo Banda.
He said the repatriation exercise would be jointly handled by the Malawi Police Service and Department of Immigration.
He said Dzaleka Refugee Camp is housing over 48,000 people from the initial 10,000.
Inspector General of Police, George Kainja, has warned defiant asylum seekers and the community against violence during the exercise.
“No one should attempt to take the law in his or her own hands. We do not want to hear any story of violence against these people that their shops have been looted or that they have been unceremoniously evicted in their houses. The law will take its course,” he said.
Malawi hosts a total of 48, 824 asylum seekers and refugees with 115 Somalians, 30,240 Burundians, 10,989 Rwandees, and 7, 320 Ugandans, among others.