Malawi: In Malawi, hundreds of refugees were rounded up and taken to camps
By Ahmad Hadizat Omayoza, Mamos Nigeria
Many displaced people and refuge seekers in Malawi have been effectively moved from the capital, Lilongwe, to an overcrowded government camp.
Over the course of the past week, more than 300 refugees, including 100 children, have been rounded up and relocated to the camp Dzaleka, which is approximately thirty miles away.
Two months ago, the Ministry of Homeland Security issued a deadline for all refugees in the country to return to Dzaleka by April 15 or face eviction. According to the government, refugees were denying Malawians economic opportunities and employment opportunities.
Dzaleka was worked in 1994 to house huge number of individuals getting away from brutality in Rwanda, Burundi and the Majority rule Republic of the Congo (then known as Zaire). It was worked to oblige 12,000 individuals, yet is currently home to more than 50,000. It is believed that 20,000 refugees are living outside the camp.
In four areas of Lilongwe, on May 17, police began conducting house raids and closing shops and businesses. Before being moved to the camp, residents were taken to Maula prison.
After residents protested the evictions, the army was brought in to assist police on May 19 in Mgona, which is approximately seven miles from the city center.
“These individuals—refugees—were our revenue source. Getrude Banda, a local, stated, “We can’t imagine what life will be like now that they are gone.” They were providing us with jobs.
Despite pressure from UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, the Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI), and the Malawi Human Rights Commission to halt the relocations, Ken Zikhale Ng’oma, the minister of homeland security, issued a warning that evictions would be extended to other parts of the country in the coming weeks.