Chitipa legislators want government to halt relocation of refugees to the district

Two legislators from Chitipa have asked government to halt the decision of relocating refugees from Dzaleka camp to the district until proper consultations are done.

The duo, Member of Parliament for Chitipa Wenya, Davies Paulos Ng’ambi and Chitipa South, Welani Chilenga, told reporters in Lilongwe on Monday that they are against the decision by government to relocate refugees to the district.

Ng’ambi argued that government did not consult the people neither the district council on the decision.

“We are against the relocation of these refugees and the people of Chitipa are not happy,” he said, adding that they want development not refugees.

Ng’ambi: Government did not consult people of Chitipa on the relocation

Commenting on the same, Chitipa South legislator, said they share common concerns as they share a boundary with Wenya where the camp is expected to be constructed.

“Although the camp will be in Wenya but these refugees will be all over the district and we cannot restrict their move,” he said.

Chilenga further said people in the district depend on small scale businesses, with the coming of refugees they will suffocate these businesses living people in poverty.

People of Chitipa are also concerned with the environment as most areas in the district are protected. “Our fear is that they will cause mass destruction to the forest.”

Chilenga: The construction of the camp at Wenya will cause destruction of forests

Chilenga however claimed that the district is 10 kilometers from Zambia border which is against United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) recommended distance of 50 kilometers.

Reacting to the sentiments from the two legislatures, Ministry of Homeland Security spokesperson, Patrick Botha said government will not reverse or halt the decision because consultations were made at district council level.

“All what was required in consultations was fulfilled. We met all those who were supposed to give a nod to the decision,” he said.

Some of the people consulted include Senior Chief Mwenewenya and his subjects, the District Commissioner, Chairperson for the district among others.

On the distance, Botha said Chitipa is an eligible district to keep refugees and asylum seekers because it falls in the category of less than 50 kilometers from the border as per UNHCR requirements.

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