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Cablegate: Malawi: Up to 20,000 Affected by South African Xenophobic

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RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHLG #0348/01 1651041
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 131041Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY LILONGWE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5312
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0260
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORPORATION WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 LILONGWE 000348

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/S - ELIZABETH PELLETREAU, PRM - MARY LANGE
MCC FOR DIEDRA FAIR
LONDON FOR PETER LORD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREF PHUM PREL SF MI
SUBJECT: MALAWI: UP TO 20,000 AFFECTED BY SOUTH AFRICAN XENOPHOBIC
VIOLENCE

REF: STATE 060861

LILONGWE 00000348 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU): Summary: An estimated twenty thousand Malawians have been
affected by the xenophobic violence in South Africa. Since the
attacks began May 11, five Malawians have been killed and many
others left injured or homeless. The GOM provided buses that have
evacuated nearly 1,000 of the country's citizens from South Africa,
but thousands more remain. Malawi has been working to repatriate
those who had immigrated to the country. The violence has damaged
South Africa's reputation in Malawi as a haven for foreigners in
search of employment and wealth. End summary.

2. (U) The government of Malawi (GOM) estimates that up to twenty
thousand Malawians have been affected by the xenophobic violence in
South Africa. Since the attacks began on May 11, five Malawians
have been killed and many others left injured or homeless. On May
18, 39-year-old Malawian Jonas Karuzi Simkonda died of head injuries
he sustained during an attack in Johannesburg. Four days later, a
second Malawian was shot to death in Durban. On June 7, another
Malawian was killed in a South African attack: 26-year-old Daison
Mpata was fatally stabbed in Johannesburg's township of Soweto. Two
other Malawians have also died as a result of the violence.

3. (U) Malawian press reported many Malawians flooded diplomatic
missions in South Africa in search of relief items and evacuation,
and Malawian civil society organizations blamed the GOM for not
doing enough to help. Upon hearing reports of hundreds camping at
police stations and other sites that had been designated to harbor
the refugees, the GOM created a disaster committee chaired by the
Ministry of Home Affairs and Internal Security, and promised to
assist those who needed to be evacuated. Minister of Foreign
Affairs Joyce Banda visited the Malawian mission in South Africa May
22 where she was briefed about the situation.

4. (U) The GOM hired buses from South Africa to return Malawians to
their home country. The first two buses arrived on May 25 where the
people were screened at the social welfare offices in Blantyre to
establish their identities. According to Jeffrey Kanyinji,
Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Civic
Education, the repatriation process will continue as long as there
are Malawians willing to return home. Unfortunately, many
xenophobia victims remain stranded in Cape Town, as the buses only
leave from Johannesburg and Durban, and the distance between the
cities is too far for many Malawians in South Africa to travel on
their own. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is currently working on
logistics to transport victims from Cape Town. Meanwhile, some
Malawians refuse to leave South Africa, as they would rather stay in
hiding than face poverty and hunger in their own country.

5. (U) FM Banda told the press she expects the government to
repatriate about 15,000 Malawians fleeing the xenophobic violence.
Despite meeting South African President Thabo Mbeki during the World
Economic Forum in early June, President Bingu wa Mutharika told
media he did not discuss the xenophobic violence with him, and
insisted that the media exaggerated the situation.

6. (U) The Ministry of Women and Child Development, with help from
the Red Cross, has established temporary accommodations for the
returnees at the Blantyre Welfare Centre. Each bus that the
Malawian government hired has cost over $5,000 USD. Since most
returnees arrived with no money or personal belongings, the GOM is
using a collective passport for them. According to Kanyinji, so
far, all of the people to arrive at the Blantyre Welfare Centre have
been genuine Malawians. However, the GOM has been non-committal on
whether it will set aside a special fund for the xenophobia victims.
Minister of Women and Child Development Anna Kachikho ruled out the
possibility of creating starter kits for the returnees. She
publicly stated that the Ministry was only responsible for receiving
the victims and making sure that they reach their homes, as they are
already providing food, medical care, and transport for the returned
Malawians.

7. (U) In light of fears that the large number of returnees would
cause unemployment rates to rise, Kachikho insisted that if the
Malawians were able to make a living in South Africa, then they
would be able to find jobs in their home country. She continued
that the xenophobia victims were not included in the 2008-09
national budget allocated to the Ministry of Women and Child
Development, but that the government was always prepared for such
eventualities. The Office of President and Cabinet (OPC) has given
the ministry $14,085 USD that is being used for expenses such as
transport within Malawi and food at the Social Welfare Office.


LILONGWE 00000348 002.2 OF 002


8. (SBU) Comment: Many Malawians believe that the long history of
Malawian workers in South Africa creates an obligation for South
Africa to provide better treatment for affected foreigners than has
been the case to date. The Malawi-based Human Rights Consultative
Committee (HRCC) demanded that the South African government
compensate Malawians who have lost property, as well as the families
of those who have died in the xenophobic attacks. At a Malawi-South
Africa Joint Commission of Cooperation (JCC) ceremony in Blantyre,
South African Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Aziz Pahad said that
his country's government is deeply shocked by the violence and has
sent condolence messages to the families of the five Malawians who
were killed. However, the violence is likely to damage South
Africa's reputation in Malawi as a haven for foreigners in search of
employment and wealth. End comment.

EASTHAM

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