Dzaleka (Malawi) : three refugees die after torture sessions

Dzaleka (Malawi) : three refugees die after torture sessions

They include two Burundians and a Rwandan. They had been arrested as part of the tracking of refugees in urban centers and detained in Maula Central Prison. Refugee leaders at Dzaleka camp demand independent investigations. INFO SOS Médias Burundi

Last Sunday night around 10 p.m., a van arrived at Dzaleka camp in Malawi, according to refugees. It took away dying refugees.

“We were sleeping, we heard screams and we went out to see what was happening. We saw a lot of people surrounding a police pickup. When we approached, we saw eight refugees, five Burundians and three Rwandans, lying next to the vehicle”, said witnesses.

And they lament : “these refugees, all men, could no longer speak except to shout or scream following the pain, they did not even move. They looked very tired, apparently they had been tortured”.

Police and the UNHCR fail to agree

The police explained to the UNHCR office in Dzaleka camp that these people were being released from Maula central prison and that they should be received and resettled in their camp.

The UNHCR office then refused to take in these “dying people”.

“We would like to thank the UNHCR representative who was characterized by humanity and who refused to receive these people. He told the police that he cannot accommodate dying people, that the police must first treat them and that they must be taken during the day and not at night”, testify community leaders who were present during the events.

After long discussions, the police decided to leave with the refugees and agreed to “drop them off at the hospital”.

Three men dead

“They were then admitted to Dowa Center Hospital not far from the camp. On Monday morning, we were surprised to hear the bad news that three of them weren’t lucky enough to survive. Five others have just been transferred to Dowa District Hospital for urgent care”, refugees suggest.

Damning accusations

One of the refugees still alive was able to drop a few damning words on the hospital bed.

“We were tortured. In Maula prison, we were deprived of food for a long time. They gave us injections. They accused us of opposing orders to leave the urban centers”, he recalled, very dejected.

Two leaders of the Dzaleka camp, a Burundian and a Rwandan went to the hospital to claim the bodies but the health administration refused to deliver them.

Total outrage

“We demand independent investigations to determine the real cause of these deaths. Torturers must be punished according to the law. We are sorry, our rights must be respected. If there are offenses perpetrated by a refugee, bring him to justice”, they say.

Last April, the Malawian government issued an ultimatum for refugees living in urban centers to return to the overcrowded Dzaleka camp, some 40 kilometers from the capital Lilongwe.

At the end of May, the ministry in charge of internal security then specified on national radio and television that more than 400 refugees and asylum seekers, including children, had been arrested as part of a police operation launched in several neighborhoods. from the capital Lilongwe to hunt down refugees who had not responded to the call.

Members of the Burundian, Congolese and Rwandan community in the Dzaleka camp speak of gross human rights violations and call on the Malawian authorities and the UNHCR to stop these acts.

The Dzaleka camp has more than 50,000 refugees from several African countries, including more than 11,000 Burundians.

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