Malawi demands a halt to clashes between Hutu and Tutsi refugees

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Newly arrived Mozambican refugees wait for registration at the Kapise refugee camp in the Mwanza district on the Malawian Mozambican border on 7 January, 2015 in Malawi.

BLANTYRE - Malawi on Friday deplored the violent clashes reportedly taking place between rival ethnic groups from Rwanda and Burundi at a refugee camp near the capital, Lilongwe, and said they must stop.

There have been clashes in recent weeks between Tutsi and Hutu refugees from Rwanda and Burundi housed at Dzaleka refugee camp in Dowa district on the outskirts of Lilongwe, according to unconfirmed local media reports.

"We as hosts are very disappointed with this behaviour. This must stop forthwith," Home Affairs and Internal Security Minister Grace Chiumia said in a statement.

"We are here to secure and protect you and when you start fighting because of grudges you have against each other back home, we as hosts are very disappointed with this behaviour."

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The minister did not give details about the feuding refugees.

On 5 June, Malawi's Nation newspaper quoted refugees at the camp as claiming that Hutus were attacking Tutsis there. The paper cited police as saying two murder cases had been opened.

But a district police spokesman Richard Kaponda dismissed the reports.

"It's not true about the infighting, but there was an isolated incident in which a Burundian attacked a Congolese national at a drinking joint," Kaponda told AFP.

Ethnic tensions between Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups led to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda in which around 800,000 mostly Tutsi people were killed.

Dzaleka camp, situated 40 kilometres from Lilongwe, is home to about 29,000 refugees from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Somalia and Sudan.

United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) officials in Malawi have refused to comment on the alleged violence at Dzaleka.