Malawi Human Rights Commission moves to safeguard refugees

By Lekereni Chinkhota

Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) has underscored the importance of addressing issues of lack of information sharing which results in misinformation and lack of action in some important issues affecting the rights of refugees in the country.

Speaking in Salima district during a capacity building workshop for commissioners and staff on refugees related laws, policies and international best practices, Commissioner Andrew Kavala said lack of coordination among stakeholders is a big challenge.

Programmes Manager at European Union Delegation Atiji Nuka

“We want the rights of refugees in the country to be promoted and protected just like any other regular citizen and that those undermining their stay in the camp should be taken to task. No one should feel more important and violate the rights of refugees.

“As a Commission, we look at a number of areas which require immediate interventions by government and various key players on issues about safety of the refugees, status and overcrowding. We will make sure that these issues are addressed by various stakeholders,” Kavala said.

He said the interface meeting will help the commission to develop a way forward, on what should be done and what strategies should be put in place to address various issues faced by refugees in the camps.

In her remarks , Programmes Manager at European Union Delegation, Atiji Nuka highlighted the importance of coordination among stakeholders and the need to review the Refugee Act of 1989 which is outdated.

“We have an outdated legislation. There’s need to review all issues affecting refugees and come up with solutions. As such, coordination among main stakeholders and knowledge sharing is needed,” Nuka said.

Nuka added that complaints handling mechanisms in the refugee camps wasn’t working due to trust issues between refugees and organisations working in the camps.

This dialogue can come up with a set of either an independent organisation, commission or a forum that the refugees can feel comfortable with but also trust that their issues can be handled properly,” she said.

Law Commissioner Rosemary Kanyuka, who is one of the commissioners reviewing the Refugee Act of 1989, said the Act is being reviewed inorder to incorporate current issues and challenges faced by is important to review the Act to accommodate the current situations being faced by the refugees.

MHRC is implementing a two year promotion and protection of rights of refugees and other migrants in Malawi project with funds from the European Union to enhance alignment of national legal frameworks and policies and to improve equality, inclusion, respect and engagement of refugees in the country.