A group of Karonga Group Village Headmen (GVHs) revolted against Paramount Chief Kyungu on issues concerning the relocation of a refugee camp in Karonga, on Sunday inspected Dzaleka refugee camp in Dowa to prove if the area is developed as preached by Kyungu and government.
After inspecting the area, the group led by Principal GVH Mwangolera said they can’t allow what they saw at Dzaleka to be in Karonga district.
“Those who came here at first betrayed our community. They said the area has good houses, big hospital and schools but what we have seen here is totally different. This area is like a deserted place of which we shall not allow to be in Karonga,” said the chiefs.
The group also wondered how the Karonga residents should trust the UNHCR and government that they will develop Katili and the surrounding area if they fail to develop Dzaleka refugee camp which has been there for almost 22 years.
“The people here are facing a lot problems but government and UNHCR are promising development for people of Karonga, its unthinkable,” they wondered.
After, Dzaleka refugee camp in Dowa, Member of Parliament (MP) for Karonga Central Constituency Frank Tumpale Mwenefumbo who also financed the two days trip, took the group to appreciate New Parliament building and Kamuzu mausoleum.
“I am happy that the chiefs have seen themselves and I believe they will tell their subjects the truth. However, I will also take another group of women and men as part of what I promised during consultation,” said Mwenefumbo.
Some refugees at Dzaleka who spoke to Nyasa Times that they are facing a lot of problems at the area that include hunger and threats to cholera, other water and airborne diseases.
They further said that there is no good relationship between the surrounding community and refugees at the camp.
Government want to start the project next month and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) representative Monique Ekoko said 27 000 refugees will be transferred from Dzaleka to Katili.
According to Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security Grace Chiumia, the decision to relocate the refugee camp follows a concern by government that the camp at Dzaleka was near Lilongwe, the capital city, a development that compromises the country’s security.
“Malawi is one of a few countries in Africa that has a refugee camp close to the capital city, a development that raised fear on the security of the nation. Government decided to relocate the camp to a border district where most of the refugees pass through,” she said.
Chiumia assured the people of Karonga that the process is beneficial because water points and school blocks will be constructed and Katili Health Centre rehabilitated.
Katili lies north west of Karonga, about 15 kilometres away from the boma.
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