Mutharika, Lungu, Nyusi Tackle Refugee Crisis, Shire-Zambezi

President Peter Mutharika on Monday had constructive audience with his counterparts from Zambia and Mozambique and top on the agenda was the war crisis that has forced thousands of Mozambicans to seek asylum in Malawi.

Also on the agenda was Shire Zambezi Waterway project initiated by late President Bingu wa Mutharika but has failed to see light of day due to indifferences between Malawi and Mozambique on the project’s feasibility.

Zambian President Edgar Chagwa Lungu and Mozambican President Fillipe Nyusi jetted into Malawi on Monday morning for one day discussions.

Mutharika has described the discussions as constructive, saying “will go a long way in impacting our respective populations positively”.

“Among the key items on our agenda we discussed the political situation in our respective countries, the situation of our Mozambican colleagues who are crossing borders into Malawi and the Shire Zambezi Waterway project, an initiative with a great bearing for the whole region,” disclosed Mutharika.

Mutharika said the discussions resolved to coordinate and expedite all preceding procedures for the Shire-Zambezi Waterway project to see the light of day.

Once in place, the waterway together with the Nsanje Inland Port is set to transform economies of the three countries through reduction of transportation costs, open trade within the region
and spin-off businesses along the Shire and Zambezi rivers.

“From what transpired today, I am optimistic that we have converged enough political will for the Nsanje Inland Port to become reality in the near future,” added Mutharika.

Growing numbers of Mozambicans fleeing fighting between RENAMO rebels and government forces have been seeking asylum in Malawi. According to the U.N. refugee agency in the village of Kapise, about 100 kilometers south of the capital, Lilongwe, so far has registered over 1,300 new arrivals, with more than 900 people waiting to be recorded.

Over 400 refugees arrived in 16 other villages. Most of the refugees were women and children who came from Tete province in Mozambique as the fighting between the opposition RENAMO and government forces, has been making life impossible in their home villages.

Malawi is considering reopening Luwani refugee camp, which previously hosted refugees from Mozambique’s long-running civil war. That war, which was waged between 1977 and 1992, prompted more than one million Mozambicans to flee to Malawi.

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