The Swazi Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Chief Mgwagwa Gamedze has said Somali asylum seekers living in the kingdom who complained that they were being starved and forced to work in fields without pay were lucky they had not been deported.
The Somalis were also reported to be eating grass and tree leaves as they said they were not given anything to eat at the Malindza Refugee Camp.
The Somalis became so desperate that in January 2015, they attempted to walk the 3,800 km from Swaziland back to their war-torn country of Somalia. They were unable to cross the Swaziland / Mozambique border because they did not have travel documents.
Now, seven refugees have set up camp outside Ludzidzini, one of King Mswati III’s 13 royal palaces. The Times of Swaziland newspaper reported they might be seeking Swazi citizenship.
In January 2015, the Swazi Observer newspaper reported the Somalis had asked the Swazi Ministry of Home Affairs to assist them to return to their homes in Somalia, ‘stating that they could not take any more of the hardship they faced at the camp’.
Mowlid Omer Warsame, one of the refugees, was reported saying the living conditions in Swaziland were so unbearable ‘they found it better to go and die in the warfront in their home country than in a foreign land’.
On Monday (24 March 2015), Chief Mgwagwa Gamedze told the Swaziland Senate that refugees should respect the laws of Swaziland.
The Swazi Observer reported him saying if government was so harsh on the Somali nationals they would have been deported by now.