Mozambique refugees pour into Malawi

2016-03-15 19:50
Mozambican refugees are flooding into Malawi by the hundreds, recounting how government forces are torching their homes and barns in the hunt for supporters of Renamo opposition leader Afonso Dhlakama. (Eldson Chagara, AFP)

Mozambican refugees are flooding into Malawi by the hundreds, recounting how government forces are torching their homes and barns in the hunt for supporters of Renamo opposition leader Afonso Dhlakama. (Eldson Chagara, AFP)

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Geneva - Almost 10 000 refugees from Mozambique have fled into Malawi amid renewed violence between government and opposition Renamo forces in recent months, the United Nations said on Tuesday.

A 16-year civil war between the two sides ended in 1992, but tensions have escalated since December 16 when Renamo chief and former rebel leader Afonso Dhlakama vowed to take power in six of Mozambique's 11 provinces, after rejecting the outcome of 2014 elections.

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said roughly 250 people have crossed into Malawi every day since the end of February.

The UNHCR has registered 9 600 refugees from Mozambique in southern Malawi since mid-December, with another 1 900 on the border waiting to be processed.

"More recent arrivals have said they were fleeing out of fear of clashes this month between government forces and Renamo," the UNHCR said in a statement.

Most of the refugees are currently in the Malawian town of Kapise, but there are plans to relocate them to a recently re-opened camp further away from the Mozambique border at Luwani, the UNHCR said.

The Luwani camp previously hosted Mozambicans displaced during the civil war before being closed in 2007.

Refugees have previously told AFP that they were forced to flee after government forces torched homes and barns in the hunt for Renamo sympathisers.

Renamo's Dhlakama has said public support would help him gain power in the six central and northern provinces, but he has warned he would retaliate with force if the government tried to prevent his takeover.

Read more on:    renamo  |  afonso dhlakama  |  mozambique  |  southern africa

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