Mzuzu, September 8, Mana: The Department of Immigration in the Northern Region has registered an increase in the number of illegal immigrants within the region, the department’s Public Relations Officer, Francis Chitambuli, has confirmed.
In an interview on Monday, Chitambuli said the number has increased drastically this year as compared to last year during the same period from 72 to 374.
He expressed fear that the situation would fuel the further spread of COVID-19 in the country.
“Chances of importation and further spread of the pandemic are high as most of the people enter illegally and definitely, the health status of a person becomes unknown whether someone is tested for COVID or if they are vaccinated,” he said.
The PRO attributed the increase in illegal immigrants to the latter’s tendency of using Malawi as a transit route to other countries, without necessarily meeting Immigration officials.
He said the malpractice is mostly fueled by Malawian Citizens who convince the travelers.
To reverse the situation, Chitambuli said the Immigration Department has embarked on sensitization meetings with locals, Chiefs and various stakeholders in the region, which highlight the impact of helping foreigners to enter the country illegally.
In addition, he said roadblocks have been mounted at Phwezi, Khwawa, Songwe and Jenda along the M1 Road to Karonga, to help them track illegal immigrants in the region.
“Random patrols and sweeping exercises are also being done to thoroughly check people who are staying or entering illegally.
“We also work hand in hand with the judiciary because when people are arrested, they are taken to court for it to pass judgment for contravening Malawi Immigration laws,” said Chitambuli.
According to Immigration laws, aiding and abetting illegal immigrants is an offense according to Section 36 of the Malawi Immigration Act.
Police Public Relations Officer for the North, Maurice Chapola, said it was a sad development to note that Malawians were fueling the entrance of illegal immigrants into the country.
“It is sad to learn that most of these illegal immigrants found their way into the country using unchartered routes with the aid of unpatriotic Malawians.
“When one deliberately ignores proper procedures to gain entry into a foreign nation, the probability of having ill motive is high; aiding them into entry compromises the security, including the influx of criminal activities,” said Chapola.
The police PRO then advised members of the community to report illegal immigrants to police in order to reverse the trend.