Government faulted for delaying relocation of refugees and asylum seekers

Written by Ivy Tunkete Mwanyongo

The Small-Scale Business Operators Association of Malawi seeks to inquire from the Ministry of Homeland Security on the measures put in place to ensure the imminent relocation of all refugees and asylum seekers residing in the rural and urban areas to Dzaleka Refugees Camp, in Dowa district.

Chairperson of the Association Tension Mulimbula tells Umunthu FM that despite receiving the news gladly, the group has reservations considering that this is not the first time the government has issued such an order.

“We have received the message with joy, but we want to ask the government to try its level best by making sure that it implements the relocation exercise come April 15th 2023”, said Mulimbula.

“The statement issued by the Ministry of Homeland Security is not explaining how the exercise will be carried out and this is why we want to engage the ministry to explain to us the procedures that will be during the exercise”, added Mulimbula.

Some refugees and asylum seekers inside Dzaleka Refugees Camp.

Concurring with Mulimbula, Chairperson for Mzuzu Youth Caucus Gomezgani Nkhoma says nothing tangible will be done from the ultimatum given, citing that previously, the government betrayed Malawians by failing to implement such orders.

Nkhoma says it is not only time-wasting but shameful, because the exercise would have been near completion by now.

“Malawians may wish to remember that in 2022, the government had set February 2nd, 2023, as the last date for asylum seekers and refugees to relocate freely to Dzaleka. Surprisingly, the date passed without hearing or seeing anything tangible on the ground despite funds being allocated to the exercise”, said Nkhoma.

“We feel betrayed by our own government, perhaps we have started believing that allegations we hear that some public officials receive kickbacks to derail this important exercise are true”, added Nkhoma.

Nkhoma also indicated that Mzuzu Youth Caucus has set Monday, April 10th, 2023, as a day they will mobilize Malawians to relocate refugees and asylum seekers to their designated centers.

He added that the group will not allow the government’s negligence, incompetence, and unpreparedness to deprive them of the opportunity to triumph economically and socially.

The Ministry of Homeland Security has however indicated that the process of relocating refugees and asylum seekers will be done by state agencies such as the Malawi Police Service (MPS) and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services and that no person or group should meddle in the process.

The government began efforts to relocate refugees and asylum seekers residing outside the Dzaleka Refugee Camp back in 2021 and the fresh order has given the aforementioned up to April 15th, 2023, citing that after the ultimatum, the relocation process will be enforced.

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