By IOMMIE CHIWALO
The Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI), has urged government to stop victimising fellow Africans under the guise of implementing laws and regulations governing refugees and asylum seekers.
The voice of reason from CDEDI is coming after several stakeholders including United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have condemned the same.
Briefing the press in Lilongwe, CDEDI Executive Director, Sylvester Namiwa said the conduct demonstrated by government is not only a violation of human rights but also international protocols.
Namiwa says the conduct of government demonstrates inconsistency in policy implementation considering that it committed itself to the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) and also pledged at the Global Refugee Forum in December 2019 to incorporate refugee matters into its national development agenda, reform the legal and policy framework, cover registration and
documentation of refugees, enhance refugee status determination and support the self-reliance of refugees through increased livelihood activities.
“Given the above commitments, what is happening on the ground is a classic example of the Malawi Government’s policy inconsistency that has culminated into outright appetite for torturing fellow Africans helplessly yearning for a safe and better living,” says Namiwa.
He has since asked President Lazarus Chakwera to direct Minister of Homeland Security Ken Zikhale Ng’oma to stop the current exercise which its approach is evident that is only aiming at harassing fellow Africans.
Namiwa cited as an example of what Malawians witnessed recently when government hunted down like rats refugees and asylum seekers who included children, pregnant women, and even the sick, shoving them into trucks to Maula Prison in Lilongwe without food and proper beddings amid harsh weather conditions.
“It is strange that while countries such as Kenya are welcoming fellow Africans by removing visa restrictions, the Malawi Government is doing the opposite by arbitrarily revoking citizenships for industrious fellow Africans who, in their
own small way, are making positive contributions towards healing the country’s ailing economy,” he said.
He said it is worrisome that the exercise is very disturbing as it is coupled with allegations that the same government is revoking the refugees and asylum seekers’ citizenship without any good reason.
Namiwa feels Government’s current stance and conduct is not only suspicious but, also, leaves one fearing that maybe the Malawi Government has a hidden agenda against Rwandans and Burundis.
“Therefore, in the spirit of Ubuntu, CDEDI wishes to implore President Chakwera to listen to the humble voice of reason and intervene by rescinding his government’s decision to revoke the citizenship of the 396 refugees and asylum seekers whose papers were processed,” he said.
Meanwhile, according to Namiwa, CDEDI has also written the Minister of Homeland Security demanding the list of the affected naturalised citizens and proof of prior communication indicating reasons for the revocation of their status.
“Additionally, CDEDI is reminding government that Malawians have a right to know how much has been spent on the relocation exercise of the refugees and asylum seekers. Besides, Malawians would also like to know in whose interest is government harassing these fellow Africans, especially those from Burundi and Rwanda,” queries Namiwa.
Sadly, as government is busy bundling refugees and asylum seekers and dumping them in prisons in transit to the congested Dzakela Refugee Camp, millions of Malawians are seeking refugee in other countries.