Refugees in dire straits in Malawi


Dzaleka refugee camp, Malawi. Photo by United Nations

from MAVHUTO BANDA in Lilongwe, Malawi
Malawi Bureau
LILONGWE, (CAJ News) – THE United Nations Refugee Agency has bemoaned the decision by Malawi to relocate thousands of refugees to the congested Dzaleka camp.

The agency believes the decision will have disastrous consequences on refugees’ lives.

Some 8 000 refugees living in rural and urban locations are expected to return to Dzaleka, which presently accommodates 56 425 refugees.

It was originally established over 25 years to accommodate up to 12 000 refugees.

The UN agency thus is worries relocating several thousand refugees back to the camp will have dire consequences on the provision of critical basic services such as health, education and protection programmes.

“The relocation means that children will have to leave their schools and breadwinners to abandon their employment or small businesses and return to a camp where they will be dependent on humanitarian assistance,” said Kouame Cyr Modeste, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) representative in Malawi.

UNHCR is also concerned about the tight deadlines given to refugees for their relocation.

Refugees living in rural areas have been given until Wednesday (November 30) and those living in urban locations have until February 1, 2023, to relocate to Dzaleka.

Under-funding is already impacting current service provision to refugees and asylum seekers in Malawi.

As of October 31, 2022, UNHCR had only received 29 percent of the US$22,9 million required to adequately support refugees and asylum-seekers this year alone, in Malawi.

This has crippled UNHCR’s ability to meet the protection and livelihood needs of the people it serves.

– CAJ News