Hardships In Dzaleka Refugee Camp

By Theogene Habimana

Hardships In Dzaleka Refugee Camp by Habibi

Living in Dzaleka camp hasn’t been easy for most people. This is a place where the fittest survive. Dzaleka refugee camp hosts more than eighty thousand refugees, most of these refugees come from DR. Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Somali, and Ethiopia. These refugees fled their countries for various reasons, some being due to civil wars, some political issues, and some due to insecurity. Many of these refugees are suffering from trauma due to the massacre they witnessed in their homes, the death of their beloved ones, and other unpleasing experience they went through. However, in the Dzaleka refugee camp, refugees have no right to a movement or higher education.

Dzaleka Refugee camp is still open to receive refuge seekers. Nevertheless, some people have stayed in this camp for 10 years, and 18 years and few have stayed in the camp for 20 years. Most of these people survive on the food donation they receive from World Food Program. However, the quantity of food being given was not enough as they were distributing 14 kilograms of corn, ½ littler of cooking oil, and 1 kilogram of beans per a person to eat for 1 entire month. This was not enough as it could not last for 3 weeks. And sometimes one has to sell part of the food to buy charcoal to cook food.

A few years ago, WFP shifted from distributing food to distributing money to refugees.  The money being given per person is 6000 Malawi Kwacha monthly which is equivalent to US$5.87. This money is expected to cover one’s food expenses monthly. With this money one has to purchase, Charcoal, Flour, Beans, Cooking oil, and other foods needed for the month. This money is not enough which has resulted in many people engaging in immoral behaviors just to make ends meet.  Most young girls engage in prostitution just to get money to provide themselves with other necessities such as clothes, body lotion, and many more.

Despite the situation being difficult in the Dzaleka Refugee camp, some refugees have created income-generating activities such as small shops, some doing tailoring, farming, and others repairing electronic devices based on the skills they possess. All these have been able to at least improve their living standards and make family members survive the hardships in the camp. While waiting on the US$5.87 given by WFP, these people have found something to do to ensure they have enough food to survive even though this is not the case for everyone as there are many families in the camp suffering from malnutrition.

Students in Dzaleka camp have access to kindergarten which is only 3 block rooms, Primary school, and Secondary School. However, many students don’t get admitted due to insufficient resources. This leaves these people to stay home as they do have not hope of education. After Secondary School refugee students hope to be admitted to the World University Service of Canada (WUSC) but the scholarship is given to a smaller number of students as they only take less than 20 students every year. Students who are left out of the WUSC program suffer from stress as they feel their hope to achieve their dream is shattered. In the end, they engage in drug and substance abuse. The only hope that strengthens Refugees in Dzaleka Camp is hope that maybe someday they will be resettled to a place they will call home.