Somali refugees fleeing conflict in their home nation have travelled to almost every country around the globe in search of security and opportunity. Most African countries have united behind a policy of welcoming African refugees such as those from Somalia. However, the Kingdom of Swaziland appears to have started to break this norm by arresting many Somali migrants after labelling them as “health hazard’ and ‘nuisance’.The report in which Somali refugees were labelled as “health Hazar” and “Nuisance” emerged after police rounded up hundreds of Somali migrants in the capital city Lobamba for the past few months and charged them with contravention the Immigration and the Public Health Acts, according to Sawiz Observer.
The arrests began after Somali refugees left their camps and trekked from Malidza town to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) offices in Mbaban, the largest city in Swaziland to complain about dreadful livelihood conditions and marginalization in the camps. According to the local media, the Swaziland government has proposed a plan to deport hundreds of Somalis back to their country, a move aimed at stemming the influx of refugees entering the country in southern Africa country illegally.
Fleeing police harassments and lacking shelter, many refugees had to leave the cities and spent ‘many’ days in the shrubby areas, where they were accused of defecating in the open and polluting the environment, according to the newspaper “Sawiz Observer“.
Despite the grim conditions and abuses of Somali refugees, Swaziland home affairs minister Princess Tsandzile told the country’s parliament over the weekend that her government was engaged in the assistance for refugees. Furthermore, he hinted at a possible mass deportation of Somali refugees. The minister was responding to questions from Mkhosi Dlamini, a member of the parliament who raised the hardship of the Somali refugees in Swaziland with authorities.
For years, the Swaziland government has been expressing alarm at the high number of Somali asylum seekers flocking into the landlocked nation for the past few years.
In march, The Swazi Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Chief Mgwagwa Gamedze stirred controversy with a comment against Somali asylum seekers who complained that they were being starved and forced to work in fields without pay, saying they ‘were lucky to have not been deported’.
The situation in Swaziland for Somali refugees remains grim according to them and their human rights are regularly violated by the Government of Swaziland. Many refugees feel humiliated, mistreated and truly unwanted on a daily basis. The UN and International organisations the community claimed had to do more to support them in overcoming the social, economic and political difficulties they faced. Most sadly admitted, they had no one else to assist them.