Malawi has secretly airlifted 221 young Malawians from the country to work and be trained on Israeli farms and those of other nations “as this administration’s commitment to job creation and youth employment”.
The airlift last Saturday came in the wake of an Israeli $60-million aid package for Malawi’s economic recovery announced two weeks earlier. Greater self-sufficiency in agriculture is a major push by the administration of President Lazarus Chakwera, who defended the conditions of the aid package when challenged by political opposition leader, Kondwani Nankhumwa, who also asked why the agreement for the training had only been revealed to the country’s parliament on November 22 – just three days before it had been arranged to take place.
The government also gave assurances on the security and safety of the workers, saying that they would be given medical insurance and protections against repatriation, in addition to working in areas that were "classified as fit and safe”.
The agreement for the educational work programme was made in the midst of Malawi's present economic crisis. Its currency has been devalued by 44%. From today South African Airways is suspending its flights to the landlocked country due to the uncertainty of the economy and its recovery.
Added to the ailing economy, the United Nations International Children Fund has also expressed fears that at least 573 000 children in Malawi under five may become malnourished. Acute food insecurity, which is exacerbated by frequent climatic shocks and avoidable disease outbreaks may undo recent successes in decreasing chronic malnutrition. The devastating impact of Tropical Cyclone Freddy in March 2023 is still being felt in Malawi, where
659 000 people - many of them children - are internally displaced. The cholera outbreaks that occurred after the cyclone have so far claimed 1 759 lives.