The High Court in Lilongwe will on May 26 rule on whether refugees in the country should return to Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Dowa.
The anticipated ruling follows an application by the State to vacate an injunction obtained by the refugees representatives.
The refugees’ lawyers obtained a stay order on government’s decision announced by Minister of Homeland Security Richard Chimwendo Banda last month ordering the refugees to return to Dzaleka.
When the matter came for hearing at the High Court Lilongwe Registry yesterday, lawyer representing the Attorney General’s office Neverson Chisiza asked the court to dismiss both the stay order and the application for judicial review.
However, Justice Ruth Chinangwa reserved her ruling on the matter to May 26 2021.
Chisiza yesterday declined to comment on what transpired in court, referring The Nation to Ministry of Justice spokesperson Pirirani Masanjala who could not be immediately reached for comment.
But lawyer representing the refugees, Eric Salima, said in an interview the applicants will now wait for the court to decide on the matter.
He said: “The State made the application to vacate the granting of leave to commence judicial review. The court will now make its ruling on 26th May. That was the main substantive matter in the case.”
Government last month ordered refugees from previous and current war-torn African countries, who now stay in the country’s towns and cities, to relocate back to Dzaleka Refugee Camp by April 28.
But on April 27, businessperson El i e Umukunzi obtained an injunction issued by Justice Ruth Chinangwa, arguing the government’s directive could lead to xenophobic and targeted attacks on property and businesses owned by the foreign nationals.
The refugees further argue that after years of intermarriages with locals, the decision to force them back to the refugee camp might break families.
They also bemoan congestion at the camp, whose design capacity is less than 10 000 refugees, but now accommodates over 50 000.
But government argues that the status quo has led to national security lapses, saying refugees with legitimate concerns over business and family disruptions should first go to the camp to register and later submit formal applications to be allowed to continue running their business for a specified period.