Following the rising numbers of Mozambicans entering the country, government has finally reopened Luwani Camp in Neno District to relocate more than 11 000 Mozambican asylum seekers who have settled at Kapise Village in Mwanza.
About 10 000 Mozambicans have already been registered by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and government workers as refugees at Kapise Resettlement Centre with more than 1 500 others waiting to be registered.
Luwani Refugee Camp previously hosted more than one million Mozambican refugees who fled their country’s 16-year civil war between 1976 and 1992 but government closed it down in 2007 due to poor funding.
Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs and Internal Security, Beston Chisamile, said yesterday government decided to reopen the camp last week following appeals from the UNHCR, among other agencies.
He said: “The decision to open the camp was made by government last week and we immediately communicated to UNHCR and already we have started discussions with regards to logistics on the relocation.”
Chisamile added that the relocation process, which will be in phases, is expected to start within the month.
However, Chisamile could not say whether upon completion of relocating the asylum seekers, Kapise Camp will be completely closed.
UNHCR has since commended the Malawi Government’s decision to reopen a former refugee camp with more than 160 hectares to help cope with the rising numbers of fleeing Mozambicans.
Speaking during a press briefing in Geneva, Switzerland yesterday, UNHCR spokesperson Leo Dobbs said the reopening of Luwani Camp would provide the refugees with better facilities and services including health, education, water and protection besides being safer.
“UNHCR appreciates Malawi’s generosity in hosting so many people. We also reiterate the importance of keeping doors open to people fleeing danger,” said Dobbs in a statement made available to The Nation.
Kapise Camp is receiving about 250 Mozambicans everyday from around 130 people per day last month, according to UNHCR.
Several partners, including Unicef, World Food Programme (WFP) and Medicines Sans Frontiers, are providing essential services like water boreholes, food and health care.
The people are fleeing deadly skirmishes in their villages which are allegedly being perpetrated by government soldiers who are fighting with the main opposition group- the Mozambique National Resistance (Renamo) of Alfonso Dhlakama which wants to take control of six northern provinces of mineral-rich Tete, Manica, Sofala, Tete, Zambezia, Nampula and Niassa. n