By Tiyanjane Mwambucha
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees(UNHCR) in Malawi has disclosed plans to relocate some refugees and asylum seekers in order to decongest the camp as one preventive measure of Covid-19 pandemic.
UNHCR and partners working at Dzaleka refugee camp in conjunction with Ministry Homeland Security have identified a place close to the camp,where they expect to construct some shelters to relocate some of the refugees and asylum seekers.
In an interview with UNHCR Malawi’s Country Representative, FatimaMohammed said Dzaleka has reached its absorption capacity and decongestion was the only solution in an effort to prevent the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We are working hand in hand with the Ministry of Homeland Security as our main partner and we are trying to see how we can be able to decongest the camp. We hope that by June,2020, the first group of refugees will be relocated if there will not be any hitches to the construction work,” she said.
The Country representative said her office and partners working in the camp are prepared for a situation where the government implements the lockdown.
“We have planned to give food ration for two months in advance, so that people can have enough food and we have also empowered the health facility here in Dzaleka so that the health workers will continue to serve the host community as well as the refugees in case of a national lockdown,” Mohammed added.
Principal Secretary for Ministry of Homeland who is also Commissioner for Refugees, HarryKanjewehad a tour of Dzaleka Refugee Camp to appreciate some of the Covid-19 preparedness measures undertaken so far.
He said they have already made an agreement with the hosting community surrounding the camp on the development.
“The agreement is for both parties looking at what the host community is going to provide to the refugees and what the development partners are going to offer the hosting community so that they both benefit from the project.
The community will benefit bridges, boreholes and irrigation schemes in return they will offer land for molding bricks and assist the development partners with manpower,”Kanjewe pointed out.
According to UNHCR, currently Dzaleka has reached its absorption capacity with the camp hosting over 49,000 refugees and asylum seekers, representing a 300 per cent increase from the original 10,000 people it was initially built for.
This has created a situation of congestion which requires the adoption and implementation of strategies and principles that will inherently minimize congestion rerated risks.-MANA