Malawi: Human Rights Body Against Refugee And Asylum Seekers Relocation

By Joseph Dumbula

The Malawi Human Rights Commission has asked government to rescind its decision to relocate refugees and asylum seekers to Dzaleka camp.

Government has set 1 to 15 April 2023 as a fresh timeframe for refugees and asylum seekers living in urban and rural areas to go back to Dzaleka Refugees Camp.

Minister of Homeland Security, Ken Zikhale Ng’oma in a statement said that government wants forcing all refugees residing in both rural and urban areas to relocate to Dzaleka.

“This notice is effective from 1st April until 15th April, 2023, thereafter relocation process by the State will be enforced. Government reiterates that during the process of relocation only State Agencies such as the Malawi Police Service and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services as well as the Refugees and Asylum Seekers themselves should be involved. If any person or group of persons is found meddling in this process or harassing the refugees and asylum seekers in any way, Government will ensure that such individuals are met with the full arm of the law,” said Ng’oma.

The minister noted that Government of Malawi is obliged to protect Refugees and Asylum seekers in designated camps and it is in this respect that Dzaleka Refugees Camp was established with assistance from UNHCR where appropriate provisions and required international standards for a safe stay for all refugees and asylum seekers are provided.

“The said standard including but not limited to having the Katubzya Primary and Secondary School run by JRS, the Dzaleka Health Center run by the Ministry of Health and the Dzaleka Market under the Ministry of Local Government. All Refugees and Asylum Seekers are therefore expected to reside in this designated camp,” said Ng’oma.

However, the MHRC has cautioned government on the order.

Speaking at a media briefing, Peter Chisi, Director for Civil and Political Rights at MHRC said the decision is not viable given the fact that the camp remains filled by people.

He has said they also feel the decision will lead to infringement of rights of children whose families have to relocate without plans.

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