Dehumanization and Infrahumanization of Refugees in Malawi

Malawi is a country in South Africa led by President Lazarus Chakwera who came to power on behalf of the MCP and the Tonse Alliance and he came on power after the re-election because the first one was shown to be fraudulent. It is one of the leading countries in Africa and in that is very democratic. This is reflected by the power for citizens can remove an unwilling leader and appoint someone they see fit and liked.

Lilongwe Accommodation | Malawi Safaris

The fact that Malawi is a Democratic country has made many foreigners leave their countries and move to Malawi for work and shelter. This has also made refugees from different countries, especially the ones from East African countries more prone to war and human rights abuses fleeing to Malawi because it is there that they hope to find security and tranquility. Reports from international organizations show that Malawi is in a good position to respect human rights. There is a refugee camp in Malawi called the Dzaleka refugee camp. The camp was designed to accommodate only 10,000 refugees and now has a population of more than 40,000. Some of these refugees decided to move outside of the camp due to its shortage and they are now in different parts of Malawi. They have been building homes, have intermarried with Malawian citizens for more than 20 years and have been running some developmental activities.

IAFR is serving people in Dzaleka Refugee Camp, Malawi

How is the life of refugees outside the camp?

Although Malawi is one of the leading country in the field of democracy, it has shown some traits for lacking bureaucratic procedures. This inadequacy has resulted in the great deal of human right abuse and intimidation’s to refugees living in Malawi. The root cause of human rights abuses on refugees in this country is the concept that this country has put forward a law which prohibits refugees from carrying out development activities outside the camp and the law requires refugees to be in camps. Many times it has been proposed that the law be amended, but its bill has been repeatedly thwarted by some for their benefit and has continued to undermine refugee rights and promote abuses against refugees.

Since the people of Malawi know that the refugee law requires them to be in Dzaleka camp (incapable of receiving it), Malawians are protesting and violating the rights of refugees in the country, including treating refugees as worthless, depriving them of their time daily works, and the borrower cannot repay you on the pretext that you are Maburundi (the name of a refugee in this country is intended to devalue them). This is attributed to some of the country’s government agencies, especially the Immigration and Emigration Service, where they regularly go down to parts of the country and hunt refugees like animals. Imagine a young boy chasing an old man or an old woman and this result in hurting them and some of these refugees who have heart diseases easily lose lives. They arrest, imprison, and fine them a lot of money. When they fail to pay they take long to be release them or they invade their properties. This has resulted in dehumanizing refugees because they have seen their governing bodies hunt them like stray dogs. Some Malawians wake up and harass refugees fearlessly because they know there are no consequences.
As of this writing, there is a document issued on March 1 in the name of the Ministry of Refugees in the country where the document gives refugees who work outside the camp, 14 days to return to the camp otherwise they will be looted. This is a very difficult situation because some of the refugees are married to citizens and have children and others have activities that cannot be removed within 14 days.

What does the Ministry of Refugees say about this issue?

The meeting was held on 29/3/2021 at the Dzaleka Camp. Intambwe news has a copy of its resolutions, which was convened by a delegation of more than 18 refugees and chaired by the Director of the Office of Refugee Affairs in the Ministry of Refugees who was also the representative of the Ministry of Refugees in the country and was accompanied by the head of the camp. The only topic discussed at the meeting was the issue of refugees living outside the camp. The leader of the meeting began by asking the participants if they thought the issue of repatriation of refugees to the camp is over by answering the question, the official responded himself that the issue still exists because some of the citizens are being bought by some of the beneficiaries and they are constantly putting pressure on the Malawi government to expel some refugees. They teach them that these refugees are the ones who keep them from moving forward because they are taking their jobs. The chairperson of the meeting said the new ministry do not support the decision to expel refugees to the camp because the camp is full and the Malawian government had not yet suspended the refugee reception program. He encouraged the government and other officials to safeguard refugees and advise refugees who are in dangerous areas to move close to security agencies where they can get help easily.
Refugee representatives at the meeting demanded that the Refugee Act be amended as soon as possible, as it would end up harassing refugees he said that the Malawi Refugees Act is being implemented, which is why the government is in the process of approving the CRRF refugee development program.

Gay refugees, Malawi – Gemma Taylor Photo

What do the various agencies have to say on the matter?

In a short interview with Prof Charles Kambanda, an American of Rwandan origin and a professor at one of the University of the United States in the Department of Law and has a prominent legal advocacy forum, we asked him what he sees to be done when it comes to the abuse of basic refugee rights in Malai. Prof Kambanda says Malawi is one of the countries of the UN and has signed various human rights treaties stating that human rights are not only for the citizens and excludes refugees and foreigners.
“We are aware of this and we are monitoring it closely. The time that Malawian government can fail to help refugees, when we can be requested to sue the Malawi government in the African Court of Human Rights and we are planning to work with human rights organizations on this issue,” he said, “ We are working together to start a campaign to call on the countries that support the Malawian government to stop it as long as it continues to violate the rights of refugees”.

Another official in Malawi’s presidency spoke to Intambwe but asked not to be named because he is not in charge of the spokesperson’s office, adding that they understood the situation and are closely monitoring it, saying it was not the government’s plan to prevent foreigners from coming to work in their country. The Malawi country as a tourist destination, do want more investors to come and open up the activities of our people and get jobs, and we have to protect them. “This is a project that involves people who want to steal refugees because it’s something that has been around for years but you don’t know where it ends,” he said. I tell you this will stop soon after we bring justice to its representatives and all those who hide behind it. He said it was ignorant and foolish to tell someone that Maburundi are stilling your jobs. They are few lazy people who refuse to do anything and wait for stealing refugees. For instance, the Maburundi rents a house and the owner get school fees to pay for children, they rent shops and the owner earn money to do other activities. They pay taxes and so on. Someone who thinks someone has stolen his job is stupid because the customers of these refugees are our citizens. “So let’s say Burundians have opened shops, do you think they go to bring customers from their countries? They are buying their things because they have found what they” The official concluded by urging some people need to pull their socks up and create jobs. He encourages people to collaborate and develop the country. For the ones who are waiting to still refugees’ things have to change this culture because they can’t even spend one week with the stolen things.

Obed Ndahayo

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