A group of Rwandan exiles have written President Lazarus Chakwera to seek his intervention on government’s decision to relocate all refugees in the country back to Dzaleka Refugee Camp.
In a letter dated April 22 2021, the Rwanda Bridge Builders, who identify themselves as an umbrella body for all Rwandan political and civil society organisations in exile, argue that the recent decision could be exploited by the Rwandan Government to victimise some refugees for political reasons back home.
The group applauded the Malawi Government and citizens for the hospitality extended to the Rwandan refugees for more than 20 years.
In the letter, they thank government again “for having taken exception and allowed those who can afford it to live outside of the refugee camp and engage in income-generating activities” while are saddened by the new measures announced by the Minister of Homeland Security to relocate the refugees.
Reads the letter in part: “The measure has sent shivers down the spines of Rwandan refugees who fear that this could be part of the plan of the Rwandan government to destabilize the well-settled Rwandan refugees in Malawi.
“The senior security adviser to President Kagame, General James Kabarebe, made a speech in which he said he feared that Rwandan refugees in Sadc countries were gaining wealth and knowledge that they could end up doing what his generation did in 1990 by fighting their way back to Rwanda to take power.
“He vowed that his government would do everything in its power to stop them from becoming a threat (translation of the speech is attached). Rwanda agents in Malawi and the Embassy staff are now busy telling refugees to register and go back to Rwanda.”
The group further urged Chakwera to review the decision based on principles of regional and continental integration.
It adds: “We would like to take this opportunity to thank the people and government of Malawi for the brotherly hospitality and protection that your government has extended to Rwandan refugees to this day. We put our trust in your Excellency’s humanity and spirit of pan Africanism to hear the cry of refugees and reverse this decision that goes against the African legendary values of hospitality, brotherhood, and of the spirit of African Union.”
Foreign migrants from previous and current war-torn countries that arrived in the country as refugees but now stay in towns and cities have up to the end of this month to relocate back to Dzaleka Refugee Camp following an announcement by Minister of Homeland Security Richard Chimwendo last week.
The minister gave an estimated 2 000 refugees a 14-day ultimatum to return to the refugee camp in Dowa, citing among others, national security.