UNFPA and International Office of Migration (IOM) have donated personal protective equipment (PPE) worth $6 000 (about K4.3 million) to the Immigration Department on behalf of all ministries working at the country’s borders.
Speaking during the handover of the equipment in Lilongwe on Friday, UNFPA representative Won Young Hong said Immigration staff face high risk of exposure to Covid-19 as they are the first people to get in contact with returnees.
She said protecting them will also ensure that they take care of the returnees, especially pregnant women and girls who require special care after enduring a long and tiresome journey.
Since the first returnees arrived in Lilongwe late May, confirmed cases of Covid-19 have exponentially increased from 83, with four deaths, to 620 with eight deaths, including officials that were helping the returnees.
This weekend, about 385 returnees, in nine buses, are scheduled to arrive in the country through Mwanza.
IOM representative, Nkomo Mpilo said migrants that have returned so far have been a mix of those that have tested both negative and positive to the coronavirus.
He said: “This is a testimony that migrants’ access to health services is a challenge, and if not urgently addressed will reverse member States’ efforts to fight the pandemic. As IOM and UNFPA, we commit to supporting Malawi in the fight against the pandemic.”
On his part, Principal Secretary for Homeland Security Harry Kanjewe thanked the two United Nations (UN) organisations, saying the donation will help to protect Immigration officers when executing their duties.