Malawi raises concerns over influx of Mozambican refugees

Lilongwe - Malawian government officials have expressed concern over an increase of Mozambican refugees entering the country, putting further strain on an already fragile economy, Malawi24 has reported.

Mwanza District Commissioner Gift Lapozo revealed that the number of refugees had increased dramatically from 3 000 to over 11 000 in a year, raising fears over more intense economic woes that could hit the region as a result.

"This is an increasing pressure on the social service as these people need food and medical care. We are working with some partners to alleviate the problems the refugees are facing, as you know they leave their country with little or nothing for their upkeep" Lapozo was quoted as saying.

According to Karin De Gruilj, spokesperson for the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC), the influx had been caused by continued conflict between Frelimo government forces and the Mozambican opposition, Renamo.

She said many homes had been destroyed, while scores of civilians had been killed as a result of the conflict, causing the remaining citizens to flee.

A previous News24 report said that, while humanitarian organisations such as Doctors Without Borders (MSF) had a permanent presence in the region, a humanitarian crisis was brewing due to lack of access to food and basic amenities.

The threat of a cholera outbreak was also a cause for concern, as access to water remained an issue.

Despite urgent calls being made for aid and additional land to house the refugees, assistance remained minimal.