Refugees flock to Malawi as conflict intensifies in the Congo
LILONGWE: Impoverished Malawi is experiencing an influx of refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) as a result of the escalating political and humanitarian situation in the Central African country.
It is estimated that 10000 Congolese may seek refuge in Malawi by the end of the year.
The mass arrivals of refugees indicates the depth of the strife in the DRC: Malawi is not a neighbouring country; it is further south, with Zambia in between.
In the wake of the influx by the Congolese, the government of Malawi and the UN High Commissioner of Refugees are leading an inter-agency mission to assess the state of reception facilities in Karonga and Chitipa districts in the north of the country.
The areas are suffering severe hunger because of the worst drought in decades.
Meanwhile, Neno district in the south is hosting about 3 000 refugees from Mozambique, who fled bandits of the opposition Mozambique National Resistance (Renamo).
In the DRC, clashes between militia and government forces have left more than 2600 people dead in the past year. Many militants are opposed to President Joseph Kabila’s continued stay in power despite the lapse of his mandate late last year.
More than 5 000 civilians have fled to Angola in the west.
The army and police have been accused of severe reprisals after militia killed a number of soldiers.