Govt upbeat on new Chitipa refugee camp

Authorities say plans to relocate Dzaleka Refugee Camp from Dowa to the northern district of Chitipa are at an advanced stage.

The relocation plans follow congestion of the camp, which is currently accommodating over 50, 000 refugees and asylum seekers against 10, 000 people.

Speaking on Wednesday in Dowa during a visit by the Parliamentary Committee on International Relations, Commissioner for Refugees General Ignacio Maulana (retired), the situation at the camp is deplorable and resources are inadequate due to overcrowding.

Disclosed Maulana: “The camp is currently accommodating over 50, 000, and we are in the process of identifying the place and sorting out that problem.”

He added that currently, government officials are planning to visit the proposed site in Chitipa where the camp would be relocated.

“It’s government’s decision that the camp has to be closed and moved somewhere. Normally, camps are supposed to be 50 kilometers from the border, and that’s what actually we are working on,” he added.

The current proposed site in Chitipa is 1000 hectres.

As of Wednesday, this week, 1112 individuals have been relocated to the camp from various locations across the country in the current operation of relocating the refugees and asylum seekers.

Concurring with General Maulana, the Committee’s Chairperson, Patrick Bandawe, said the government needs to fast-track processes of relocating the camp as a matter of urgency.

He said: “As a committee, we really wanted to appreciate the living standards of these refugees, and we have seen that the camp is overpopulated, and we have also observed that a lot of refugees are coming back after being reallocated from communities.

“It is a welcomed idea that these people should be decongested by taking them to the proposed site in the north at another refugee camp.”

Refugees and asylum seekers currently being accommodated at the camp are mainly from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, and Rwanda, which represents the total refugees.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Dzaleka is a protracted camp with a monthly average of 300 new arrivals (62 percent are from the DRC, 19 percent Burundi and 7 percent Rwanda and 2 percent other nationalities). 45% of the persons of concern (PoCs) are women, and 48% are children.

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