Refugee influx worries CHRR

The Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) has expressed concern for the increasing influx of asylum seekers and their conduct outside designated camps despite government's directive that they return to their camps by November 14, 2008.

In a press statement issued on Monday, CHRR said there is growing tension between locals and the refugees.

We have noted with grave concern that some of these refugees and
asylum seekers are trading freely in some parts of the country, a
development which has not gone down well with local traders who feel
that the foreigners are taking away their businesses, reads in part
the statement signed by the CHRR executive director Undule Mwakasungula.

According to CHRR, the organisations' concerns are based on a study it
carried out in some parts of the country. The statement says the study
conducted in Area 25 Township in Lilongwe earlier this year showed
evidence of growing tension between refugee traders and local business

The residents had earlier petitioned government to force the refugees
back to their camps but up to now nothing has been done reads the

CHRR said in 2006, xenophobic violence erupted when local traders in
Dowa attacked their foreign counterparts, beating them up, looting and
destroying their property on the same excuse that the refugee traders
were taking away their business opportunities.

We appeal to government to intervene and urgently address the local
traders' concerns and grievances to avoid the South African scenario,
said Mwakasungula.

But he expressed concern that despite issuing an ultimatum last year,
government is not enforcing the law to have the refugees back into
their camps.

Government issued an ultimatum calling on all refugees to return to
their designated camps by November 14, 2008. The question in our mind
and obviously in many people's minds is why so many of these refugees
have not returned to the camps as directed? And what is government's
position on refugees doing business here? Asked Mwakasungula.

Post published in: Politics

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