Refugees and asylum seekers in the country have pleaded with the government to allocate sufficient time for them to relocate to Dzaleka Refugee Camp.
The development follows government’s order that every refugee and asylum seeker who is residing outside Dzaleka refugees camp should return to the camp by Wednesday, April 28, 2021.
However, refugees has cried foul over the matter claiming that while the decision is in line with the current refugee encampment policy, restricting the mandate to a mere two-week window will cause more harm than good.
One refugee, Innocent Magambi, CEO at Inua Consulting company who has been in Malawi since 2003, said he understand the motive for the re-encampment to be a security concern over ill-intentioned individuals disguising themselves as refugees.
He, however, said all refugees living on national territory hold government-issued status cards and that it is not proper that the Malawi government should punish a larger population just because of a few who are doing against the laws of the land.
Magambi who advocates for the rights of refugees in Malawi further added that it is surprising that this decree applied to all and any refugees residing outside Dzaleka and not only those residing in rural areas a development which he said will cause an extreme congestion at the city.
“I would like to express my profound concern about the recent ultimatum on the part of the Government for refugees living outside Dzaleka camp to leave their homes and activities and take up residence within Dzaleka once again.
“The sudden re-encampment of thousands of refugee children in schools across Malawi would be unbearable for the Dzaleka schools, where Malawian and refugee children learn together,” worried Magambi.
He continued to say that the first refugee children who were born in Dzaleka are 27 years of age and they have not known any other home apart from Malawi hence the decision would psychologically harm many children.
On the two-week ultimatum, Magambi further said intermarriages and business partnerships with Malawian nationals are common so to break such ties within a sudden two-week period would have lasting emotional and economic repercussions.
He has since recommended that the government should allocate a minimum of more three months for viable implementation of its re-encampment decision.
“Once we recognize that refugees have become part of Malawian society, we will be ready to move forward with solutions that benefit everyone,” he said.