Located a few kilometers away from Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe lies one of the largest refugee camps in Southern Africa, Dzaleka refugee camp which according to data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) hosts over 46,000 refugees, taking into account the need to tackle gender-based violence in the camp, Facilitators for Community Transformation (FACT) is now helping women refugees to put back their lives to normalcy.

In the refugee camp, FACT has been implementing indirect activities such as Know Your Rights and Responsibilities. The target group are Women Action Groups (9 groups comprising 15 women and girls in each group who are Trainers of Trainees [TOTs]) who received further training on life skills such as briquet making, backyard gardens, hair dressing and Village Savings and Loans (VSL) to enhance self-reliance.

FACT also intends to conduct the Amodzi -We Are One Campaign which aims at promoting peaceful interactions. The campaign will target women, men, boys and girls within the Refugee Camp, FACT also intends to launch a Hotline Service in the camp as part of the response to gender based violence.

Commemorating the world refugee day in style at Dzaleka
The World refugee day is an international day designated by the United Nations to honor refugees around the globe. The day falls on June 20 each year and celebrates their strengths and also encourages people who have been forced to fee their home countries to escape from confict or persecution. Implementing partners including FACT, invited guests, refugees, surrounding communities, local leaders, chiefs, government gathered together in commemoration of the day which took place at Mbalame school playground on 20th June 2022 in Dzaleka refugee camp with the theme “Together we heal, learn and shine”.

Before the event started, all invited guests, stakeholders and natives marched from Nsenga primary school to the event ground with songs carrying a message of safety, rights, peace, love and unity dedicated to all refugees worldwide while holding a banner written, the right to seek safety, whoever they are, wherever they come from and wherever they are forced to fee.

FACT works in Dzaleka Refugee Camp with financing from the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women and Girls (UNTF) and builds engagement with Community Action Groups to enhance sensitization on the rights of women and girls including through know your rights community campaigns which have created demand for services on VAWG and SGBV prevention, as such tailored monitoring of the advocacy activities that had been implemented is being carried by the trained community action groups with a total number of 580 women and girls involved to date.

Management of the camp and current situation
Malawi Government implements an encampment policy where refugees and asylum seekers are expected to reside only in the camp. Initially designed to accommodate just about 10, 000 to 12,000 refugees, the camp now hosts more than triple of its intended capacity to about 46,000 refugees. This camp has been in operation since 1998 and continues to increase in population. Using Japanese funding, a new camp site is being developed in Katubza and Dzaleka Hill, of which if completed will host approximately 500 families each. Though this is not enough to address the congestion in Dzaleka camp, FACT continues to engage policy makers and CSOs to increase advocacy with the Government for the allocation of additional land to host more refugees and decongest the current camp capacity. FACT has joined several partners including UNHCR is pushing for a settlement approach to push away from the encampment policy, to promote peaceful coexistence between refugee and nationals as well as boost self-reliance for refugees.