KATIMA MULILO, 10 DEC (NAMPA) -
As the deadline looms for the return of all 908 Namibian refugees from the Dukwe Camp in Botswana by 31 December, only 12 individuals, including a baby, will be coming back on Friday.
On Thursday, Zambezi Regional Governor, Lawrence Sampofu confirmed to Nampa that the 12 Dukwe returnees will be welcomed at the Ngoma-Botswana border post by officials of the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration, who will immediately issue them with Namibian identification documents.
Sampofu said the returnees will then re-join their families after the welcoming event at the Zambezi Regional Council offices on Friday.
"The returning 12 people, including a baby, are those who registered to return home to Namibia. The process of their return and resettlement back into society will be handled the same way as those who have since returned and reintegrated back into society."
On 31 December, the Government of Botswana will revoke the refugee status the Namibians have enjoyed at the Dukwe Camp for the past 17 years.
This comes after the Botswana Government, along with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), were convinced that there is no intimidation and unlawful arrest in Namibia, and it would thus be safe for them to return home.
The refugees, about 3 000, fled the country in the aftermath of an attack during the failed attempt to secede the Caprivi Region, now Zambezi, in August 1999 from the rest of Namibia.
Most have since returned and only 896 have declined the voluntary repatriation. On this, Sampofu said those who have not registered to return through the UNHCR will be considered illegal in that country, but added that the process is still open for them to change their minds in the next two weeks.
"I have been informed in a letter that only 12 would be returning, but I am also urging the rest to take this opportunity before 31 December. There is still enough time for them to be assisted to come back home; they should not wait until it is too late."
In July this year, Nampa reported on the deportation of 13 Namibian refugees, who formed part of the last come-and-see-go-and-tell mission in the country intended to function as an evaluation with the UNHCR of the state of affairs in Namibia and if it was safe for them to return home.
The group of 13, made up of 10 men and three women, were forced to leave Namibia after reports emerged that they, along with some traditional authority members, allegedly advanced ideas to secede the Zambezi Region from the rest of Namibia.
The group was further accused of campaigning for people to join the United Democratic Party (UDP), which is currently banned in Namibia. The incident occurred at the Liselo, Kasheshe and Nampengu villages. (NAMPA) FS/LI/ND