A- Governance and Human rights organization, Millennium Information and Resource Centre [MIRECE], has thanked the Government of Malawi for taking the first step in answering its letter to the UNHCR seeking clarification of information for Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Dowa district.
MIRECE says it is happy that Government has finally issued a strong notice to all the refugees and asylum seekers residing outside the Dzaleka Refugee Camp in the rural areas of Malawi to return to the Camp.
The notice is directing refugees that they avail themselves to the designated area for their residence in Malawi and as such, they are requested to close their business and return to the Camp commencing from the first day they receive the notice saying Government of Malawi shall provide a grace period of fourteen  days.
In the notice filed on 1st April, 2021 from the Ministry of Homeland and Security, the Government of Malawi is requesting the refugees to make all the necessary arrangements to move their property immediately as they will not be allowed to reside in their areas anymore at the expiry of the grace period.
…….’’Failure to comply with this notice will mean that you have chosen to act contrary to Government’s directive contrary to Section 9 of the Refugees Act, as such, the Government of Malawi shall not hesitate to use necessary force for you to return to the Camp.
Speaking in an interview, MIRECE’s Director, Reverend Flywell Somanje, said his organization is expecting a lot from the UNHCR to clarify all the points as raised in its letter of 20th March, 2021, such as when the Refugee Camp would be closed in Dowa, the number of refugees designated for the Camp to accommodate the refugees and why the UNHCR has built permanent houses for Refugees at the Dzaleka Refugee Camp.
Reverend Somanje, has however questioned Government on the selective application of the law only for refugees and asylum seekers living in the rural areas outside the Dzaleka Camp in Dowa leaving those in the urban centres and towns.
…’’The law should not be selective, we need the law that will be applied to all the refugees regardless of where they are, as this is the first part, we expect Government to do more until all the refugees have returned to the Dzaleka Camp in Dowa,’’……said Rev. Somanje.
He expressed hope that the UNHCR will clarify more from the issues raised in their letter after it was given 90 days to respond by providing details of the Camp’s existence in Dowa having observed that Malawi once hosted Mozambican refugees but their treatment was not so special as the one accorded to the refugees and asylum seekers of Rwanda, Burundi and Ethiopia at the Dzaleka Refugee Camp.
Some years back, Government planned to open a Refugee Camp at Katiri in Karonga but the communities there after sensing danger of hosting the refugees and asylum seekers, rejected to have the Camp in the district. Dzaleka Camp in Dowa is hosting over 40,000 refugees and asylum seekers from Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic Of Congo [DRC], Somalia and Ethiopia.
By Vincent Gunde