We hail government for taking corrective measures on illegal immigration, but caution must be taken to ensure that Malawi remains loyal to the relevant refugee conventions it signed on the global scene.
There is no denying that Malawiâ€™s good image has been tarnished by some refugees who have abused their status in one form or the other whilst being sheltered in the country. But, it is also regrettable that, as decried by the authorities, including President Joyce Banda, some of the problems we have had with the refugees and illegal immigrants have been perpetrated by our own people.
The shady deals of refugees and illegal immigrants aided by some Malawians have impacted negatively on our good image. It all has come at a huge cost, including the tragic embarrassment of scores of illegal immigrants that recently drowned in our waters as they tried to sneak into the country.
So, it is in light of all this that we commend government for moving in to arrest the situation by ensuring no refugees are illegally allowed to become Malawian citizens; and also that illegal immigrants are not allowed to abuse our hospitality.
However, while we have no mercy for illegal immigrants that are bent on soiling our good name and facilities, we would like to urge caution on government not to overreact to the situation by employing measures that disregard the best practices of dealing with refugees.
Indeed, there is now relative peace in Rwanda and Burundi from where most of the refugees came from. The desirable thing for the refugees to do is to return home and help in the development of their countries. But bearing in mind that the peace in those countries may not be wholesome, the repatriation process requires thorough consultation with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).
It needs to be ascertained that repatriated refugees will not return home to curse us Malawians for just doing the needful.
Otherwise, we agree with government that, all things being equal, it is time for the refugeesâ€”some of whom have outlived their welcome because of the roles they played in making our country insecure socially and otherwiseâ€”should leave us alone to determine our destiny.