Fresh clashes in parts of Mozambique have resulted in the return to Malawi of scores of asylum seekers who had voluntarily gone back to their country several weeks ago.
Earlier this year, Malawi hosted about 12 000 registered Mozambicans at Kapise Refugee Transit Centre in Mwanza, Nsanje and Chikwawa.
But the number sharply declined to around 700 last month after most of them embarked on a voluntary repatriation to their country following restoration of peace in the affected areas.
The Mozambicans fled their villages, particularly in Tete Province, due to skirmishes between Mozambique government forces and opposition armed groups.
However, there have been reports of renewed fighting in Tete Province during the past days resulting in a number of Mozambicans fleeing back to Malawi.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) confirmed in an interview on Saturday that some Mozambicans were returning to Malawi barely weeks after they left for their homes.
UNHCR reporting and public information associate Dorothy Kachitsa said in an interview the first group of 61 returnees arrived week after fleeing the Mkandafisi area in Zobue.
She said: “The persons of concern that have arrived at Kapise are from Kajiya Village. They claimed to have fled fighting in Mkandafisi, an area close to Mozambique-Malawi border.”
Kachitsa said the asylum seekers claimed some soldiers warned them to flee as they were planning to attack a base in the area.
The UNHCR official also said several other unregistered Mozambicans were camping at Chipondeni Village in the district.
On his part, Group Village Head (GVH) Kapise, in whose area the Refugee Transit Centre is situated, said as of Saturday the number had increased to 151.
He said: “There are about 151 Mozambicans at Kapise as of today, but the number keeps fluctuating because some are secretly integrating in local villages. As I speak, several others have camped at Ntasa Village.”
Malawi Government with other partners, including UNHCR, relocated some Mozambicans from Kapise and other parts to Luwani Refugee Camp in Neno District while several others returned to their country.
An unconfirmed population of the refugees has reportedly integrated themselves in local communities in Mwanza, Neno, Chikwawa, Nsanje and as far as Blantyre.