The spectre of civil war in Mozambique has forced thousands of Mozambicans to flee to Malawi, evoking bitter memories of the devastating 16-year conflict pitting Renamo and Frelimo that wrecked the neighbouring former Portuguese colony.
Tensions between the opposition Renamo and the governing Frelimo have flared up in recent times after the former rebels threatened to return to the bush to push their claim over what they view as alienation from the country’s economy, politics and public life.
Local leaders and government officials have confirmed that over 2 000 Mozambican nationals are scattered in Mwanza, Neno and Chikhwawa where they are seeking refuge.
Mwanza district commissioner Gift Rapozo said currently the refugees are not organised into camps.
“Mwanza has registered about 1 821 [refugees] as of early this month. However, the numbers might be going down considering that some people are returning to their country,” said Rapozo.
He said it is difficult to come up with a figure on the people who have crossed into Malawi because refugees are scattered in many areas in the three districts.
“We are in the process of mobilising them to one camp. Officials from the Ministry of Home Affairs and UNHCR [United Nations High Commission for Refugees] were in the district to assess the situation. These people are erecting their own temporary shelters,” said Rapozo.
Traditional Authority (T/A) Kanduku of Mwanza confirmed that Mozambicans are flocking into the country to escape civil war in their country.
“The DC’s office gave us some forms to record those people who are coming into the country,” said Kanduku.