Namibian Refugees Want to Stay

| May 18, 2015

Namibian refugees at the Dukwi refugee camp have stated that they will not return to their home country and thus urged Botswana government not to turn its back on them.

They said this at meeting addressed by the Minister of Defense, Justice and Security, Mr Shaw Kgathi and his Namibian counterpart, Minister of Home Affairs and Immigration, Ms Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana as well as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) officials recently at the Dukwi refugee camp.

Representing over 900 Namibian refugees at the camp, Mr Felix Kakula said Botswana has been a good host for the past 17 years they had been staying here, noting that they could not forget that kind of hospitality. However, he mentioned that they were against the change of heart by the Botswana government.

He further pointed out that a decision might have been taken by the leadership to repatriate them back to Namibia on the pretext that everything is back to normal in their country.

That, he said was not the case as some of their relatives who were involved in the struggle for liberation have been jailed for over 14 years without reason, adding that promises that on their return home they will be given some incentives which includes grants and building materials to set up structure was an illusion they will not accept.

He further lamented that despite the fact that their country was now said to be peaceful, they will not return as it remains the same country they ran away from fearing for their lives, adding that there might be reports that the colonial rule has long ended but the practice of colonization of an African by another still remained intact.

Mr Kakula therefore suggested that Botswana as their haven of protection for over the years, should rather give them proper documents for them to have a guaranteed stay instead of making a commitment and extra efforts to have them returned to a country they have feared all their lives. He further proposed that prior to a decision to have them returned they should have been dialogue with them.

Earlier on, addressing the refugees, Minister Kgathi noted that after several meetings with his counterparts they reached a resolution that the Namibian refugees’ status be ceased.

The minister explained that the reasons that made them to be refugees have since ended with their country being democratic and a peaceful. And as such with them having their roots traced there they should be assisted to go back home to play a meaningful role in maintaining the peace enjoyed by other Namibians back in their country.

The repatriation process, he explained, will be on a voluntary basis with each one of them assisted as an individual not a group, adding that the process started with immediate effect and they will be given until December 31st this year for them to have all left the camp.

Furthermore, he emphasized that throughout the whole process they are going to make sure that they are assisted with everything which is due to them. Minister Kgathi further asserted that they have made a commitment to facilitate a journey in which they would want to go and see where they will be relocated before the final relocation.

He, however, stressed that after the deadline of their refugee status has expired, their stay in Botswana is going to be completely changed as they will be required to have proper documents such as residents and work permits to guarantee their stay.

For her part, Ms Livula-Ithana urged fellow Namibians to return home and join others who are working to develop their country, noting that their country has just celebrated its 25th independence which goes by the slogan Economic prosperity for all.

“As a unit we could develop our country to greater heights,” she said.

And she informed them that proper arrangements have been made to have them assisted with basic needs citing that UNHCR has made available grants to be given to each one of them which come in the form of $300.00 grant, $100.00 for their children and $200.00 for education.

Source : BOPA

Source : Botswana Daily News

Category: General

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