Last Updated: Monday, 23 October 2017, 15:25 GMT

U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2004 - Malawi

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 25 May 2004
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2004 - Malawi , 25 May 2004, available at: [accessed 23 October 2017]
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 nearly 13,000 refugees and asylum seekers at the end of 2003, including nearly 7,000 from Rwanda, some 3,000 from Congo-Kinshasa, and more than 2,000 from Burundi. About 1,000 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, and as many as 200 refugees from the Great Lakes region arrived in Malawi each month during 2003.

During the year, more than 1,000 new Congolese and Burundian refugees fled to Malawi to escape civil wars, while 200 Rwandan refugees moved to Malawi from camps in Tanzania where officials pressured them to go home. About 9,000 refugees lived in Malawi's main refugee camp, Dzaleka. An additional 1,000 refugees and asylum seekers relocated to Luwani, a new camp opened in October 2003 due to overcrowding and scarce farm land at Dzaleka.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) planned to transfer 5,000 refugees from Dzaleka to Luwani by the end of 2003, but administrative delays and the onset of the rainy season slowed relocation.

The World Food Programme (WFP) provided limited food rations to camp residents, mainly maize, beans, and cooking oil, while other staples, such as sugar and salt, were lacking. While Malawi recovered from last years devastating drought, most refugees remained dependent on rations in 2003 and vulnerable refugees suffered during delays in food delivery. UNHCR could only provide seeds and tools to one-third of the refugee families who applied for agricultural assistance due to the increased number of new arrivals during the year.

UNHCR continued to provide basic necessitates, such as blankets, clothing, cooking utensils, candles, and sanitary materials. Several new wells in the camps increased refugee access to potable water, but the steady influx of refugees during the year strained water resources at Dzaleka camp. Sixty new toilets improved camp sanitation and well-supplied health clinics in both camps provided refugees with adequate but basic medical services.

Refugee children attended primary schools in both camps, but there were no secondary schools in the camps and the Malawian secondary school system was overcrowded. More than half of the refugee population was of school age.

As in 2002, lack of funding continued to hamper UNHCR's efforts to provide adequate assistance in 2003. Housing and toilet construction activities could not be completed during the year due to cuts in UNHCR's budget for Malawi. Approximately 2,500 refugees and asylum seekers lived in urban centers, mainly Lilongwe and Blantyre, supporting themselves with small businesses and professional skills.

The Malawian government resisted refugee self-reliance and the local integration of some 300 refugees who have lived in the country for many years, citing legislation barring refugees from engaging in business or practicing their skills. Local authorities and press accused refugees from Dzaleka camp of illicit business deals, taking over Malawian markets, and threatening national security.

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