The Malawian government is under fire from Human Rights Watch for reportedly undermining refugee rights at the Dzaleka refugee camp.
The government has expelled INUA Advocacy, a leading refugee rights organization, thereby silencing a critical voice of scrutiny for human rights conditions within the camp.
Termination of Partnership with INUA Advocacy
In November 2023, the government terminated its partnership with INUA Advocacy, forcing the group to vacate its offices in the camp.
The organization has been instrumental in highlighting abuses against refugees, particularly following the implementation of a 2023 encampment policy that involved forced relocations and reported instances of violence and theft by authorities.
Overcrowding and Insufficient Facilities at Dzaleka
The encampment policy requires refugees and asylum seekers to reside in the camp, which is severely overcrowded and lacks sufficient facilities.
The camp, originally intended to accommodate 12,000 people, is now home to over 50,000. INUA Advocacy, along with other groups, has been calling for improved living conditions and accountability, advocating for refugees' right to freedom of movement, work, and education.
Unfulfilled Commitments and International Obligations
Despite President Lazarus Chakwera's commitment to improve the well-being of refugees, the situation remains dire. Some refugees have opted to leave Malawi due to the severe hardships.
While Malawi has ratified international conventions on refugee rights, it has expressed reservations on certain provisions and hasn't amended its 1989 Refugee Act to properly address the rights of refugees.
Human Rights Watch is urging the Malawian government to collaborate with civil society groups, ensure access to Dzaleka, and end its restrictive encampment policy.