Police have confirmed the death of Samson Hamenyimana – a renowned Kasungu-based Burundi national and businessman – who was found dead in the wee hours of Friday, August 13, 2021.
Harry Namwaza, who speaks for the central east region police, confirmed the development, saying the body of the deceased was found in a pit around Mtunthama Village in the district.
“The cause of death is not yet known but we are in the process of finding out,” said Namwaza.
Hamenyimana was from Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Dowa district, and was only in Kasungu for his business ventures.
In May this year, the government of Malawi ordered thousands of refugees who have integrated into society to relocate to Dzaleka, a move that the latter resisted.
The Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) had warned the Malawi Government to tread carefully on the implementation of its order to relocate refugees and asylum seekers back to Dzaleka.
The human rights watchdog feared the action could spark xenophobia against the refugees if the government did not handle the matter carefully.
Government had issued a 14-day ultimatum to 2, 000 refugees illegally living outside the camp to return to their base.
The Minister of Homeland Security, Richard Chimwendo Banda, had cited national security as one of the reasons behind the relocation of the foreign migrants from previous and current war-torn countries.
However, HRDC chairperson Gift Trapence asked the Malawi Government to ensure that it was not promoting xenophobic attacks against foreigners.
Trapence said the government needed to make sure that they allowed people who have legal documents of doing business and residence to stay.
“Government should adhere to principles of human rights as they are implementing their actions. It is important to comply with international refugees’ law. Refugees are one of the most vulnerable groups as such the government should make sure that they execute the actions within the laws of this country and international refugee law,” Trapence had said.
Earlier, refugees and asylum seekers who were living outside the camp addressed journalists at Dzaleka Refugee Camp where they pleaded with the Malawi Government to rescind its decision to relocate them to Dzaleka.
The press briefing followed consultations among the foreign nationals, representatives of the Burundians, Rwandan and Congolese nationals at the camp.
They decried the move as detrimental to their wellbeing, citing security of their investments across the country and poor conditions at the refugee camp.
“We are begging the government to listen to us as their children. What we are saying is that, look, we are not against the government’s position but if we go by the 28th April deadline, we will not be able to move in time as some of us have businesses, some have houses and other properties. Government should allow us one more year so that we can finish our businesses and go back to the camp,” said Roman Bijangala, a representative of Congolese nationals.
He further urged government to ensure there was a proper plan to ensure property of the foreign migrants is not looted or any migrant suffer xenophobic attack out of the decision.
Kanamula John, a representative of the Rwandese community at the refugee camp, said one of the main concerns of the foreign nationals was the challenge of congestion at Dzaleka refugee camp.
“The camp was supposed to house some 10, 000 people but we are now over 40, 000 and the people who are returning will not easily find space. That means more diseases and hardships as the cold season starts. We are pleading with the government to review its position. Some of us have married Malawian women and some Malawian men have married refugees. We don’t know what will happen to our children, so this is not a decision that is easy for us,” John had said.
But Chimwendo had said while the government would consider protecting the investments some of the business persons have made in the country via case to case review of applications, the priority of the government was for every refugee to immediately return to the camp and be accounted for.
“It’s a bad approach to go to the media before approaching us. It’s not just about the business issue, there are other issues we are looking into, we are not chasing them, and we just want them to be where they should be. We had problems in the system then and we are asking them to follow the law and go back to Dzaleka. Those who have businesses and want to bring to attention their special cases, we can handle that case by case, but they will have to operate from Dzaleka. They can operate from Dzaleka, let them go to the camp and we might consider their cases,” Chimwendo had said.
Chimwendo said government’s view did not amount to discrimination of the refugees and said those who were keen on continuing plying trade should seek proper licenses like all foreign investors.
On the status of the refugee camp, Chimwendo said the government was working with UNHCR to address challenges cited by the refugees.
Some 48, 547 refugees and asylum seekers reside in Malawi’s Dzaleka Refugee Camp as of 31 January 2021.
Additionally, 187 new arrivals and 120 newborn babies were registered in the camp.
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