Malawi has clashed with neighbour Mozambique over the former’s decision to relocate Mozambican refugees to Luwani Refugee Camp.
The move, which received the backing of United Nations Refugee Agency UNHCR, has irked the Mozambican government who want their citizens to go back to the former Portuguese colony.
Over 12,000 Mozambican refugees are living in makeshift camps at Kapise in the border district of Mwanza after fleeing conflict in their home country.
Home Affairs Minister Jean Kalilani confirmed the clash between the two countries saying the Mozambicans have forced Malawi to put on hold plans to relocate the refugees.
“Considering the adequate facilities and vastness of Luwani Refugee Camp, we believe that our Mozambican brothers and sisters would be comfortable there.
“The good news is that we are holding mutual discussions on the matter with our counterparts,” Kalilani said.
However, UNHCR representative in Malawi, Monique Ekoko, said his agency has not yet received official communication on the suspension of the refugee relocation programme to Luwani Camp.
Recently, authorities in Mozambique denied that the people who are at Kapise camp are refugees or Mozambicans.
“The people in the refugee camp are Malawians, rather than Mozambicans. Don’t talk to me about refugees, because there are no refugees,” governor of the western Mozambican province of Tete, Paulo Awade told journalists.
The conflict in Mozambique erupted last year after Renamo leader Alfonso Dhlakama threatened to seize power in six provinces of Manica, Sofala, Tete, Zambezia, Nampula and Niassa. Mozambican forces are trying to disarm Renamo’s militia.