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Malawi repatriates 109 refugees

By Sylvester Kumwenda

Dowa, October 5: Government has committed to continue supporting refugees at Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Dowa who voluntarily express willingness to return to their home countries.

Ministry of Homeland Security Public Relations Officer, Patrick Botha, made the remarks Thursday at a time government, in conjunction with UNHCR, repatriated 109 refugees of Burundian origin to Burundi through Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) in Lilongwe.

He said under international laws governing refugees, those who voluntarily would like to go back home will be aided accordingly.

“What people should know is that being a refugee is just a status and once the factors that led them to flee their home country have normalised, these people are free to express interest to go back to their countries and continue with their life.

“As a host country, it is our responsibility to facilitate that through a safe passage and in a dignified manner, which we are doing today,” he said.

Earlier this year, on September 15, 38 refugees from Burundi were also repatriated through KIA.

According to Botha, this recent repatriation, which has seen the number almost tripling, is a sign that more refugees are willing to get back to their home countries.

Rehema Miiro, Durable Solutions Officer for UNHCR- Malawi said almost over 400 refugees that have registered are expressing interest to go back home.

“We have taken back a few and we hope that more will come because voluntary repatriation is a process.

“After the initial registration, they must come again to confirm their voluntariness to return home before the actual repatriation,” she said.

Miiro revealed that the process has cost around US$ 120, 000 and funds allowing, more will be assisted to get home.

Speaking before departure, 35-year-old Emmanuel Ndayizeye said he was happy to get back to his homeland after staying nine years in the country as a refugee due to what he described as security issues in his country.

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