BY ARDCHIBALD KASAKURA, The Daily Times, 20 February 2009
Delegates from the Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) countries and those from the East African region meeting in Blantyre want to find solutions to illegal immigration in the region.
Opening a regional workshop on Irregular Migration Flow for Eastern and Southern African States, Principal Secretary for Home Affairs Martin Mononga said illegal migration was becoming a phenomenon.
“We are here to discuss a new phenomenon of migration which is becoming more complex as it has brought some security challenges characterised by irregular or illegal migration, forgery of travel documents, money laundering, drug trafficking, human trafficking and other cross border crimes”, Mononga said.
Malawi has of late seen an influx of illegal migrants especially from the Great Lakes region and the Horn of Africa.
Mononga said Malawi Government was concerned with the problem, saying, among other things, it has no records of the identities of the migrants and their reasons for migration.
“Government is particulary concerned over the mysterious disappearance of these asylum seekers from designated areas,” he said.
Regional Representative of the South Africa based International Organisation for Migration (IOM), Hans Peter Boe, said the workshop would provide a forum for an interstate collaboration on a cross cutting range of issues.
“Illegal migration is a global phenomenon which also happens to be a security issue because most of the times these people (asylum seekers) cross borders using uncharted routes. That is why countries have to come together in order to find solutions to these problems,” Boe said.
He said his organisation was involved in a number of programmes in the region such as repatriation and resettlement of refugees, programmes of migration and health including issues of HIV and Aids, among others.
Malawi Government, through the Ministry of Home Affairs and Internal Security, recently released a press statement, asking all asylum seekers illegally operating businesses in this country to go back to their camps.
“The process of relocating asylum seekers has already started and is progressing well, as a ministry we will be conducting a sweeping exercise to make sure that all refugees and asylum seekers have returned to their camps,” Mononga said.
The workshop has drawn participants from South Africa, Kenya, Somalia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Burundi, Rwanda, Mozambique, Ethiopia and the hosts Malawi.