• November 29, 2022 5:50 pm

Police tear gases forces Dzaleka patients to be evacuated

Nov 24, 2022

Narrating what caused the fracas Magambi said the UNHCR carried out an assessment inside the camp for some people to receive tents and their names were written and come on the distribution day, the names were not there.

By Vincent Gunde

Police and refugees on Tuesday morning and evening engaged in running battles as they were trying to arrest suspects that looted various items in a warehouse such as tents, blankets, soap, plastic pails and others over malicious damage and theft charges at the Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Dowa district.

Some young people in the camp organized themselves by responding to police action by pelting stones leaving the officers with no option but to fire teargases in the air to disperse them and this landed everywhere in the camp including Dzaleka Health Centre.

As the situation was worse, some women with respiratory problems were seen to have fainted caught in a cloud of teargases forcing the medical team at Dzaleka Camp’s Health Centre to evacuate all expectant mothers and newly born babies to Dowa District Hospital.

The refugees and asylum seekers after learning that patients were evacuated from the hospital to Dowa, there were fears with rumours that some have died as a result of police of teargases and the whole Camp was turned into mourning.

Innocent Magambi, a Refugee Rights Advocate speaking during a phone interview said he followed up the rumour to Dowa District Hospital and established that all the evacuated expectant mothers were well and no one died dismissing the rumour as not true.

Magambi said he also visited 16 refugees and a Malawian arrested by police for the offence of malicious damage and theft claiming that he was told that they were arrested while passing-by the scene and they don’t know why they are in police custody.

Narrating what caused the fracas on Tuesday morning, Magambi said the UNHCR carried out an assessment inside the camp for some people to receive tents and their names were written and come on the distribution day, the names were not there.

He said they received claims from the officials that some of their friends already received the tents on their behalf and this did not go well with the refugees they went home angry with Plan Malawi officials asked last Friday to sort out the issues before another distribution.

On Tuesday morning, the refugees were told the same song prompting to allege that Plan Malawi officials had agents within the camp who have been getting the tents freely and easily and this forced them to overpower the officials and that was the beginning of the riots in the Camp.

Meanwhile, the arrested suspects will appear before court soon to answer charges of malicious damage and theft with more arrests to be made as investigations continue.

Following the riots on Tuesday morning, two motor vehicles belonging to the Project Officer and the facilitator had their window glasses damaged whose value is not yet established.

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