Some Refugees Live Outside Camp Illegally

| November 26, 2014 | 0 Comments

The Minister of Defence, Justice and Security has informed Parliament that there are some refugees that often reside outside Dukwi Refugee Camp contrary to the existing encampment system and the Refugees (Recognition and Control) Act Cap 25:01.

Answering a question in Parliament, Mr Shaw Kgathi said, however, there were regular sweeps conducted by his ministry in collaboration with the immigration department where identified refugees were taken back to camp.

He said, regarding the refugees who resided in Dukwi, it had been noted that 154 former Angolan refugees were reintegrated into the camp community in 2001. Mr Kgathi confirmed that there were refugees who were engaged in businesses and trade in Dukwi village, neighboring villages and towns and inside the camp.

“Inside the camp, there are currently twenty five refugees engaged in small enterprises which are intended to provide convenience to other refugees and in addition some refugees were facilitated by my ministry and the UNHCR to obtain trading and hawkers’ licenses to sell household wares and farm produce to neighboring villages and towns as a way of supplementing the food rations they are given by the UNHCR,” he said.

He further indicated that this facility had been greatly abused by refugees, making it difficult to account for their whereabouts and security outside the camp, resulting in a moratorium on the issuance and renewal of licenses since August 2009.

“Accordingly, the number of business licenses held by Dukwi Refugees are fizzling out,” said Minister Kgathi. Mr Kgathi said his ministry had implored various measures in response to regular violation of the Refugees (Recognition and Control) Act and the encampment system.

He said, among other measures, the Ministry had been addressing public meetings of refugees at the camp about the importance of complying with the laws of the country.

“The Ministry has also been holding kgotla meetings in the neighboring villages to sensitise the locals about the requirements of the Refugees (Recognition and Control) Act in relation to controlled movement of refugees,” he said.

Mr Kgathi further said his ministry was concerned that some Batswana wwere motivating migration out of the camp through temporary, seasonal and permanent employment, sometimes without even work and residence permits.

He indicated that the ministry may have no other option but to invoke relevant provisions of the Refugees (Recognition and Control) Act to revoke the status of any refugee who continued to violate the convention and the laws of the country.

“I have directed the Refugee Aisory committee to start implementing the relevant provisions of the act for repeat offenders as may be submitted by the Settlement Commandant,” he said.

He further said the ministry had started consultations on the review of the Refugees (Recognition and Control) Act, with a view to entrenching the system of encampment in the Act, in a balanced manner with basic provisions of the convention on the status of refugees.

The minister was answering a question in Parliament from MP for NataGweta Mr Paulsen Majaga, who had asked the minister if he was aware that a sizeable number of refugees at Dukwi were engaged in businesses and trade in Dukwi and neighbouring villages, and that some of them resided in Dukwi village instead of the Dukwi Refugee Camp.

He also asked the minister whether such activities were not against the spirit of the establishment of the Dukwi Refugee Camp under the auspices of the 1968 Refugees (Recognition and Control) Act and to state measures to be taken to correct this situation.

Source : BOPA

Source : Botswana Daily News

Category: Human Rights

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