A food and supplies crisis could soon hit the Dzaleka refugees camp in Dowa district with government disclosing that it is only remaining with supplies that could last four months.
Minister of Homeland Security Ken Zikhale Ng’oma attributed this to a recent decision by the World Food Program which has cut to 50% all food and supplies assistance towards refugees.
He said this at a press briefing in Lilongwe yesterday, where he appealed for support.
“The World Food Program has reduced from 75% to 50% the supplies of food stuffs to the refugee camps in Malawi with effect 1st August, 2023. This will have an effect on our part because it will now be like a bottleneck for the government. This is why we urge everyone to help us, so that we can lobby donors.
“The supplies that we have will last up to 31st December 2023. We need to find a way that we should be able to support the refugees beyond that period,” said the minister.
At the briefing, the minister also said government will continue with the refugees relocation exercise. But he admitted that at the moment, the exercise has been hit by funding challenges as his department has not been able to get all the allocated funding for the exercise from the treasury.
Ng’oma also fired a warning shot to all refugees that have returned to towns and cities, that they have seven days to return to Dzaleka, failing which the government will be compelled to revoke their asylum and refugee status.
“We are giving all refugees that have returned to cities and towns to return to Dzaleka Refugees camp within seven days. If they do not comply with this notice, they will revoke their status and deport them out of this country. Everyone must return and follow proper procedures for conducting business in Malawi. You cannot be operating a business in the country illegally,” Ng’oma said.
Meanwhile, Executive Director for Center of Democracy and Development Initiatives (CDEDI) Sylvester Namiwa says this is a key indication, that the refugees do not need to be condemned into camps, as a good number of them can feed themselves.
“We warned the government to stop that exercise for the following reasons; first, it lacks merit and that it made no sense, Africans victimizing fellow Africans. Why would the government force them into very congested camps? People that were self-reliant? The same government that is failing to feed its prisoners and its citizens, how would it feed the refugees?” asked Namiwa.
Dzaleka refugees camp in Dowa district currently has over 50 000 refugees against a holding capacity of not more than 14 000 refugees.
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