The number of Mozambicans seeking refuge in Malawi has risen to about 3 500 as thousands continue to flock in following tensions between government soldiers and opposition Renamo, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said last week.
According to the UNHCR representative to Malawi Monique Ekoko, as of last week, 3 185 were registered in Mwanza and 307 in Chikwawa.
The organisation has since appealed to donors and other humanitarian non -governmental organisations (NGOs) for more funding.
“We have been providing assistance to the refugees since July last year when they started flocking into Malawi. We will continue to appeal to donors and other humanitarian NGOs to provide the much needed support to enable us meet the demands,” she explained.
Most of the refugees are said to be coming from remote areas of Moatize District in Tete Province deemed to be one of the strongholds of opposition Renamo where government forces has been reportedly carrying a door to door search for suspected Renamo fighters, burning houses, beating up and killing people .
“The situation is alarming, the camp at Kapise Village in Mwanza is becoming too small with the ever increasing number of refugees and we are discussing with the Malawi Government to consider re-opening Luwani Refugee Camp so that we move them there,” said Ekoko.
Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs Beston Chisamile said currently, discussions to re-open Luwani camp have not commenced at government level “but with more refugees coming in that might be considered.”
“As government, we are monitoring the situation and looking forward to peace in Mozambique so that the asylum seekers go back to their respective homes,” he said.
Speaking earlier, Mwanza District Commissioner Gift Rapozo told the Nation his office together with Mozambican authorities held discussions with the refugees in Mwanza last month where they were promised safety and asked to go back to their country but they refused.
Mozambican authorities feigned ignorance of any inhuman treatment of its people, saying they were only disarming Renamo fighters as they are not allowed to own arms.
Luwani Camp hosted over one million Mozambican refugees who fled from their country’s 16 year civil war between 1977 and 1992.