Namibians' refugee status in Botswana comes to an end

31 Dec 2015 12:50pm
KATIMA MULILO, 31 DEC (NAMPA) – The refugee status that Namibian refugees had for 17 years at the Dukwi Camp in Botswana has come to an end.
These refugees fled from Namibia into Botswana following the aftermath of a failed attempt to secede the Caprivi Region (now Zambezi) from the rest of Namibia in August 1999.
The deadline for the return of over 800 Namibian refugees to the country had been set for 31 December by the Government of Botswana, which is revoking the Dukwi residents’ status after it satisfied itself that there is no unrest or intimidation in Namibia.
However, when contacted for comment on the status of the refugees returning to their home country, Zambezi Regional Council Chairperson, Beaven Munali on Thursday told Nampa that no communication about the refugees’ return or current situation with regards to the revoking of their refugee papers had been received by his office.
Munali further said that although many have returned by way of voluntary repatriation between 2005 and 2015, as facilitated by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the remaining 800 have refused to take up the offer.
“The deadline is today. As of tomorrow (1 January 2016), those Namibian refugees will no longer enjoy the privilege to stay at Dukwi camp. However, there is no communication of when they will reach the country’s borders to be welcomed back into Namibia,” Munali said.
Ministry of Home Affairs public relations officer (PRO) Salome Kambala also informed this news agency that there has been no communication from their Botswana counterpart on the current situation at the camp.
“I know the Namibians living at the camp were due to return by New year’s Eve, but our counterparts have not communicated with our office. I can only refer you to the High Commission of Botswana in Namibia to enquire further,” said Kambala.
Attempts to get hold of the immigration office attaché at the High Commission of Botswana proved futile as the officer is said to be on leave until next Monday.
In July this year, a group of 13 refugees who form part of the 800 set to return, visited the Zambezi Region to determine whether it is safe for them to come back. Their stay here was however short-lived as they were told to return to Botswana due to their unruly behavior.
The group was ordered to return by Zambezi Regional Governor Lawrence Sampofu, amidst reports that they were engaging in political mobilisation for the United Democratic Party (UDP).
UDP is a banned party which was led by Mishake Muyongo.
Muyongo is alleged to be the ringleader who pushed for the secessionist attempts in Zambezi. He fled to Denmark, where he is now living in exile.