A Day Of War With No Bullets By Habibi
Refugees are in the queue to receive their tents and soaps; the official (Plan Distribution) ensures that people receive tents and soaps. The order did not last long as some refugees started not being given the aid with an excuse of not being on the list for receiving the aid. “Why am I not on the list yet I was registered to receive the tent and soaps?” Angrily he stood aside watching other fellows being also denied the tents and soaps. The situation intensified as the number of people who did not receive assistance significantly increased.
People started wondering why assistance was being given to some whilst others couldn’t receive it. “We are all Dzaleka refugees and the assistance comes in for all refugees without segregation, why are they only giving a few refugees?” Said one of the people who had been denied assistance. “They want more tents and soaps to remain after the distribution so that they share among themselves, that’s why they are not giving to every refugee,” said one of the refugees. The noise grew very loud, emotions started developing among the refugees at the distribution site. Boom! Everybody started shouting ‘Thieves, thieves, thieves!’ to the aid distributing agent (Plan Malawi).
The angry mob picked up stones and started throwing them at the officials distributing the aid. Without a delay, the officials ran for their lives leaving behind their cars and other materials they could not carry along. The angry mob started vandalising the cars. They threw stones and hit the cars belonging to the officials, destroying the car windows. This continued to the extent of breaking into the tent warehouse, where many different materials to be distributed to refugees were being kept. Among the materials were jerry cans of cooking oil, blankets, basins, and tents, just to mention a few.
The mob broke into the warehouse and ran off with anything and everything they could get their hands on. This attracted the attention of the camp police who weren’t aware of what was going on .The police tried all they could to stabilise the situation but to no avail as they were outnumbered by the angry mob which forced the policemen to retreat.
The Dzaleka police station called for help from area 37 police to help maintain order in the refugee camp. Area 37 police came in and a good number brought with them teargas. Soon after reaching the camp, they started firing tear gas canisters at the mob. The mob scattered, running into the houses. The police continued firing the teargas even in people’s compounds resulting in worser havoc that was initially there.. Children, young babies, and pregnant women started having difficulties breathing. This forced people to start dipping their heads in basins of water to try to neutralise the effects of the tear gas.
Some people ran to churches to hide, others ran to the mountains. Every person was running to catch a small portion of fresh air wherever they could find it. The cry of babies was too much, pregnant women fainted; the situation was a sore sight to the eyes, a vivid reminder of the civil wars that were fought frequently in our country.
The situation went on for 7 hours, it was around midnight that the teargas finally cleared in the air and people started retiring to their houses. All that could be heard was voices of mothers looking for their children, with the children also screaming in fear of both the dark night and the situation that they had witnessed.most Men were attending injured people, from broken jaws and joints to open bleeding wounds, they saw it all.
It was only during dawn that kids reunited with their parents but that joy was short lived as news about a 3 month old who had suffocated during the fight has sadly passed on. No bullets were fire on this day on this day but we knew it had been a great war …
8 December, 2022