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The whereabouts of eleven people taken from the Maratane refugee camp are unknown.
Apparently, even government officials and police are unaware of the arrests.
There is fear at the Maratane Refugee Center, the first and largest center in Mozambique to host refugees and asylum seekers.
There are more than 12,000 people from African countries in political-military conflict, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Somalia and Ethiopia.
According to the refugees, who spoke to DW Africa anonymously, the police unleashed a series of arrests last Thursday night, culminating in the arrest of eleven citizens without an arrest warrant.
“The police were at the intersection of Maratane’s entrances and captured the people, and at about 22:00 hours in the evening three police cars came in and picked up the people, so far we do not know the whereabouts of these foreigners. The majority are from the Democratic Republic of Congo and an Ethiopian,” one of the refugees who lives in the center of Maratane told DW.
Climate of fear
Refugees say they have not been informed of the reasons for these arrests. Before them, the region was calm and quiet. But now many live in fear of being the next victims.
“We’re scared because we do not know who will be detained this evening. When we entered Mozambique, we knew that they [the Mozambicans] were already refugees. Mozambique now lives in peace and presses for dialogue. Why can’t this harmony be lived in Maratane as well?” another refugee asks.
Refugees are now calling on the government and partners to clarify the arrests.
Help of the Catholic Church
The Episcopal Commission for Migrants and Refugees and Displaced Persons (CEMIRDE), an organization belonging to the Catholic Church, was aware of these arrests only by third parties. Father Pierre Arlian, CEMIRDE’s focal point in Nampula, told DW Africa that he was trying to find out from local government authorities what had really happened.
” I heard that too, but I have not yet confirmed this information. I was just calling the administrator to know exactly what happened … I just know that some of the parishioners mentioned it, but I still have not been able to talk to the [administrators] field authorities,” he said.
Without the knowledge of the authorities
Meanwhile, government officials are unaware of the arrests, as the recently appointed administrator of the Maratane Refugee Center, Chea Consolo, told DW by phone.
Consolo refused to record the interview but said he was not aware of the alleged arrests. He advised the DW report to contact the delegate of the National Institute of Refugees (INAR) in Nampula.
But the delegate of the INAR did not want to speak and promised to give clarification later, which did not happen until the end of this report.
Police spokesman in Nampula, Zacarias Nacute, denied that an operation was held to arrest refugees in Maratane and added that at no time did the police detain people who would have been “sent to an uncertain part of the province”.
“At the moment, I have no information on the detention of refugees. But whenever the police arrest, these citizens are not sent to an uncertain part, but sent to the various units that we have in our province,” he said.Source: Deutsche Welle