Malawians Divided On Refugees Relocation

(file photo).
30 April 2021

An intense debate has ensued among Malawians on whether it was appropriate for the government to relocate all refugees back to the Dzaleka Camp, a move which was thwarted by an injunction obtained by the latter Tuesday.

While some say it "is unfortunate" and would only result in draining the state more of her already meagre resources, others find government's decision desirable.

Writing on various social media platforms including Facebook, Malawians especially journalists and social commentators said most of them had "actually" forgotten their "refugee status."

Wrote Dumbani Mzale: "They [refugees] forgot about their refugee status, and started having problems with [Dzaleka Refugee Camp]. And when, now, we are telling them that that is where they belong, they are slapping us in the face."

Mzale, a seasoned media practitioner, said all that Malawians need is sanity to prevail.

"It is too much," he wrote.

But media entrepreneur and award-winning journalist Mallick Mnela quashed Mzale, and argued that the issue was not being handled in a systematic manner.

"The one size fits all treatment is not good. There are others who are productive and helping Malawians in different roles. As it were these people were providing for themselves through their hard work. We had no cases of crimes attributed to them. Now we are killing their businesses and expect them to be a responsibility of the taxpayer through the government's lousy support or through the UNHCR," wrote Mnela.

Mnela alleged Malawians were being unfair.

"By the way, how many of our brothers are in South Africa as 'Economic Asylum Seekers?' What was our reaction when the SA government ejected them? Yes, they [refugees] are guests. Yes, they [refugees] are not Malawian citizens. But we must always remember that we are one Africa," he wrote.

On April 1, the Ministry of Homeland Security issued a 14-day ultimatum for refugees and asylum seekers to return to Dzaleka Camp after many of them left the camp to and carry out various businesses in communities surrounding the camp.

This was made in line with the Encampment Policy which entails that refugees and asylum seekers should be in their designated camp and that those plying their businesses should do so within the camp.

However, there were reports that Malawians were taking the law into their hands and forcibly executing the government order, forcing the Ministry of Homeland Security ordering that "nobody should attempt to take the law in his or her own hands by robbing them or causing any violence against them as they are returning to the camp."

But on the application of one Abdul Nahimana on his own behalf and that of refugees and asylum seekers, an injunction was granted stopping the government from continuing with the relocation of the refugees whose deadline was April 28, 2021.

Homeland Security Minister Richard Chimwendo Banda has meanwhile said they will respect the court decision.

More From: Nyasa Times

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