Malawi Holds National Consultation on Mixed and Irregular Migration

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IOM organizes a national consultative meeting to address mixed and irregular migration in Malawi. © IOM 2016

Malawi - In cooperation with the government and the Ministry of Home Affairs and Internal Security, IOM Malawi has organized a one- day national consultative meeting to address mixed and irregular migration.

The consultation in the capital Lilongwe follows the latest Migration Dialogue for Southern Africa (MIDSA) Conference which was held in Zimbabwe in July 2015. During the conference, Ministers and Deputy Ministers responsible for Home Affairs and Immigration in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) approved a regional action plan on mixed and irregular migration to address mixed and irregular migration in the region.

“This meeting is a major milestone towards the development and implementation of a framework at national level which will be in tandem with the regional action plan. IOM and its partners UNHCR, UNODC and Save the Children will continue to support initiatives addressing the four priority thematic areas: protection of unaccompanied migrant children, statelessness, return and alternatives to detention,” said IOM Malawi OIC Sikhulile Dhlamini.

Every year thousands of irregular migrants from the Horn of Africa, the Great Lakes region and SADC countries risk their lives trying to reach South Africa. Most are transported by well-paid smugglers, who exploit the fact that there are few legal migration options. Migrants transit Malawi to reach Mozambique and Zambia en route to South Africa.

Due to limited reception and return capacity, migrants who are caught in Malawi often end up in overcrowded prisons, where they are locked up with common criminals, often beyond their sentences.

Although most are young men looking for job opportunities in South Africa, a growing number are unaccompanied minors. One in every seven migrants assisted by IOM to return home from detention in Malawi in 2015 was an unaccompanied child.

In an attempt to address the situation, IOM, the government and other partners are looking for ways to decongest prisons by identifying alternatives to detention, revisiting sentencing strategies and engaging countries of origin in dialogue to develop a comprehensive migration policy to manage migration in a humane and orderly fashion.

The workshop was funded by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) as part of an IOM regional project to address irregular migration.

For further information, please contact Sikhulile Dhlamini at IOM Malawi, Tel: +265 995109889, Email: