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Wednesday, 13 June 2018 15:21

UHCR for self-sustaining refugees

Written by  Manasse Nyirenda
UNHCR Senior Protection Officer, Lisa Quarsie makes a presentation during the workshop UNHCR Senior Protection Officer, Lisa Quarsie makes a presentation during the workshop

Dowa, June 13, 2018: United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has said the agency is working towards finding means that would make refugees self reliant amid shrinking donor support.

UNHCR Senior Protection Officer, Lisa Quarsie told journalists during a one day workshop in Mponela in Dowa on Tuesday that there is need to create a conducive environment that mutually benefits both the refugees and hosting communities and the hosting communities.

She pointed out that the media is crucial in ensuring that Malawians understand refugees issues to address the negative attitudes that some host communities have towards refugees especially now when the agency is focused on helping refugees to become self sustaining.

“The way to go about it is not to continue giving handouts which turns out to be expensive to people who are able bodied being forced if I can put it that way to rely on handouts.

“It’s important that we get to a point where refugees and asylum seekers are able to find self sustaining jobs-not necessarily jobs meant for Malawians, but if they can open their own businesses.

Eeven if they can contribute to the Malawian Education system or Malawian health system why not?

We want to get to a point where the human resources in the camps are put to good use,” Quarsie stated.  

Administration and Operations Manager for the Refugee Determination Department in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Hilda Kausiwa said the main challenge in the department was backlog of cases due to lack of resources.

She told the media at the workshop that the department is putting measures in place to expedite the processing of asylum seekers applications to enable asylum them get their status determined within a year.

According to UNHCR as of April, 2018 figures Malawi had a total 37,423 refugees and asylum seekers out of 13, 614 are recognised as refugees and 22, 966 asylum seekers. 

There is an average of 500 new arrivals per month according to the Refugee Determination Department.

Malawi has two camps that host refugees-Dzaleka in Dowa and Luwani in Neno.

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