DR Congo + 2 more

Over 400 refugees seek asylum in Malawi

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BLANTYRE, Malawi (PANA) - At least 470 refugees are camped at a refugee camp seeking asylum in Malawi.
Lucius Chikuni, commissioner for Relief and Disaster Preparedness, said the group include eight Eritreans, who entered Malawi without valid paper.

After screening, he added, they were found to be refugees seeking asylum and were refereed to Dzaleka Refugee Camp, in the central district of Dowa, some 60 km east of Lilongwe.

Chikuni said the eight flew into the country soon after 24 other Eritreans, who had entered the country with fake visas, were deported back to Addis Ababa.

"We are waiting for a report from a technical team," he said.

The technical team comprises officials from the UNHCR and the Department of Relief and Rehabilitation and some psychologists to assess the genuineness of their application.

Chikuni said the camp continues to receive new refugees and asylum seekers, mainly from the troubled spots in east Africa. At the end of February there were at least 1,600 of them.

Documents from the camp show that since 1999 the numbers of the new refugees and asylum seekers rose because of the conflicts in the Democrat Republic of Congo and Rwanda.

Meanwhile, the Malawi government and the UNHCR are collaborating on changing the country's refugee Act to allow refugees to engage in income generating activities, employment and get education instead of living on hand-outs.

The current act bars refugees from getting employed or doing business.

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