Thursday, February 22, 2024

CDEDI asks Parliament to review 1989 Refugees Act

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By Lovemore Khomo

Namiwa addressing the media

Center for Democracy and Economic Development Initiative (CDEDI) has called on both the Legal Affairs and Defense and Security committees of Parliament to review the 1989 Refugees Act to help some of refugees and asylum seekers be integrated into Malawian society.

The call reiterates the organisation’s proposal made in it’s petition dated 1st June 2021 which requested the two committees to relook into the Act.

Speaking at a press briefing on Friday in Lilongwe, CDEDI Executive Director Sylvester Namiwa was observed that despite their status, some refugees have proven to be critical to the social and economic development of the country.

Namiwa said Malawi ought to learn from other countries in the region, particularly its neighbours, how they are benefiting from integration of refugees and asylum seekers.

“Surely, it beats human understanding that as a country we should be pushing back to a congested camp where living conditions are dire—people who, besides being self-reliant are significantly contributing to wealth and job-creation in the country exercise still remain unresolved.” He said

CDEDI Executive Director said it is the organisations considered view that while government is acting within the realm of the laws and regulations governing refugees and asylum seekers, it ought to approach the matter with sobriety and ensure that measures it employs in the exercise do not boomerang on it.

“CDEDI notes with concern glaring policy inconsistency given that the same government which is agitating for recampment, entered into an agreement with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and introduced what is called ‘self-reliant tokens’ to those that have proven to lead an independent life outside the camp,” noted Namiwa.

“This was an attempt to save the refugees and asylum seekers from starvation after it became apparent that both the Malawi Government and UNHCR could not provide adequate food at the camp. Till this hour, government is still issuing the self-reliant tokens.” He said

At present, Dzaleka Camp which was designated to host
10,000 refugees is already hosting over 50,000 of them.

With this population, CDEDI has argued that forcing more refugees to return to the camp will be “a recipe for disaster and, to some extent, a violation of some rights of the refugees and asylum seekers.”

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