At least 984 people from 173 households living at a camp in sub-Traditional Authority Nthunduwala in Kasungu require relief food and land for settlement and farming, Malawi News Agency (Mana) has learnt.
The people fled into neighbouring Zambia in September 2012 after police destroyed their houses and crops for encroaching into the Kasungu National Park, but were repatriated a month later, following discussions between Malawi and Zambia.
A visit to the camp over the weekend revealed appalling living conditions at the camp as there are only six tents and four pit latrines for the 984.
Their leader, 70-year-old Kapachika Mphadwe, said they cannot access clean water and engage in any economic activity as they are stigmatised as refugees.
“It pains to see that we have been reduced to refugees in our own country. We cannot mix with the locals here because we are perceived as foreigners,” he said.
He claimed that when they were being repatriated on October 27 2012, government promised to give them settlement land within 30 days.
“We are starving not because we cannot work in the fields, but because we have nowhere to cultivate,” he said.
Kasungu district commissioner Harrison Lende said they have already identified land where the people would be moved to.
He could not, however, say when the people would start receiving relief food, saying he was waiting for a report by a district team which visited the camp on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) has asked government to act with speed on the people’s plight.—Mana