By Wezzie Gausi:
United Nations (UN) Country Representative Maria Jose Torres has urged the Malawi Government to ensure that its refugee repatriation programme is not marred by violence.
She was reacting to the government’s decision to repatriate refugees to Dzaleka Refugees Camp in Dowa District.
However, the government has been stopped in its tracks, after Ellie Umukunzi, who is one of the affected refugees, sought the court’s intervention. The exercise has been stayed until a judicial review is conducted on the issue.
Torres has taken advantage of the situation to appeal for calm, saying in-between now and conclusion of judicial review, the Malawi Government should ensure that there is no violence sparked by the issue.
Malawi is party to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees Charter, which propagates respect for refugees’ rights.
“All we want is a peaceful transition because refugees, too, have rights which need to be protected,” Torres said.
Homeland Security Minister Richard Chimwendo Banda recently assured stakeholders that there would be a peaceful transition.
“We will only allow the rule of law to be at the centre of everything and we will not tolerate violence against our brothers and sisters,” he posted on his Facebook page.
The government wants all refugees and asylum seekers who illegally left the camp to return to the site in line with the Encampment Policy, which requires all refugees and asylum seekers to ply their trade at the camp.