Last Updated: Friday, 16 February 2018, 15:01 GMT

U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2003 - Malawi

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 1 June 2003
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2003 - Malawi , 1 June 2003, available at: [accessed 19 February 2018]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Malawi hosted some 13,000 refugees and asylum seekers at the end of 2002, including more than 7,000 from Rwanda, nearly 3,000 from Burundi, and about 3,000 from Congo-Kinshasa.

Approximately 7,000 new refugees and asylum seekers arrived during the year.

Refugee Conditions

The number of refugees and asylum seekers in Malawi has increased dramatically in recent years – doubling during 2002 alone and more than tripling in the past two years.

New Congolese and Burundian refugees fled civil wars, while many Rwandan refugees moved to Malawi from camps in Tanzania where officials were pressuring them to go home.

About 6,000 refugees lived in Malawi's only refugee camp, Dzaleka, where aid workers provided food, water, health services, and non-food items.

The majority of refugees, however, lived on their own and struggled mightily to cope with Malawi's nationwide food shortage, which had been caused by severe drought.

The World Food Program originally planned to assist 8,000 refugees, but found its resources straining to help feed nearly twice that many in a country where 3 million local residents also required emergency food relief.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) provided seeds and fertilizers to several hundred refugee families, and gave financial loans to the most vulnerable refugees who lived on their own. Malawian officials allowed refugees to work and attend local schools. More than half of the refugee population was under age 18.

"Unfortunately, UNHCR's efforts in 2002 to provide adequate protection, including social and community services, were often hampered by a continued lack of funding and other resources," a UNHCR report on Malawi and neighboring countries stated late in the year.

Malawian authorities attempted to conduct interviews with all newly arrived asylum seekers to judge their claims to refugee status, but the interviews failed to keep pace with the influx.

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