Southern Africa: No Refugees in Malawi, Claims Tete Governor cia de Informacao de Mocambique (Maputo) Southern Africa: No Refugees in Malawi, Claims Tete Governor

Maputo – The governor of the western Mozambican province of Tete, Paulo Awade, has denied that there are any Mozambican refugees in Malawi.

He thus flatly contradicted the Malawian authorities, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), and journalists who have visited the refugee camp at Kapise, in Mwanza district, in southern Malawi.

Interviewed in Tuesday’s issue of the independent daily “O Pais”, Awade suggested that the people in the refugee camp are Malawians rather than Mozambicans.

“Don’t talk to me about refugees, because there are no refugees”, he said. “What exists in Malawi are displaced people and, if we pay attention, day after day, the numbers are rising. In Malawi there is drought, just as there is in Mozambique, and some Malawians turn themselves into displaced people at strategic points along our border. So we have no refugees in Malawi.”

Asked if he believed that nobody in the Kapise camp was a Mozambican, Awade softened his line slightly. “I’m not saying there are no Mozambican”, he said. “There may be one or other who goes into Malawi, and if we check our frontier, in terms or security and control, nobody can say who is a Mozambican in Malawi and who is a Malawian in Mozambique. There are no refugees in Malawi”.

But the independent television station, STV, had visited Kapise and spoken to the Mozambicans there who claimed their homes and barns had been burnt down by the armed forces because it was thought they were supporters of the rebel movement Renamo. STV also visited the Tete locality of Nkondezi on the border with Malawi, where it found entire neighbourhoods abandoned, with the houses burnt down.

Awade claimed that the arsonists were Renamo members. “As you know, it’s Renamo who burns down the houses”, he said. “It’s Renamo who attacks the population. Don’t you know that?

If you doubt that, it’s very complicated”.

Asked if the people who had fled from Nkondezi were not the same as the people now living in the Kapise camp, Awade replied “It’s not possible to have two populations. The population which is there (in Nkondezi) is producing in their fields, and those who are in Malawi are the displaced”.

He noted that most of the “displaced” in Kapise are women and children, and concluded that they must be the wives and children of Renamo gunmen (thus contradicting his earlier claim that they were mostly Malawian).

Source: All Africa