12 Aug 2016 14:40pm
KATIMA MULILO, 12 AUG (NAMPA) A tripartite commission meeting held Thursday in Zambezi Region decided to restart the promotion of voluntary repatriation of about 900 Namibian refugees in Botswana.
The decision to restart the process was made at the meeting between Namibia Home Affairs and Immigration Minister, Pendukani Iivula-Ithana; Botswana Minister of Defence, Justice and Security, Shaw Kgathi; and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) regional representative, Sharon Cooper.
At the meeting, the 18th Tripartite Commission decided that a new Go and See and Come and Tell mission date must be communicated as soon as possible to enable the Namibian refugees at Dukwi Camp in Botswana to travel back home.
It was also decided that there is a need to update information on the conditions of return to Namibia, which should be made available to refugees for them to make informed decisions and ensure their return in safety and dignity.
The commission also agreed that the Government of Botswana will continue engaging the refugees and encourage them to voluntarily repatriate.
Speaking at the meeting, Iivula-Ithana said that during the deliberations the commission reviewed the steps they had followed in the previous voluntary repatriation attempts, and managed to identify shortcomings, of which alternative solutions were offered.
With the zeal and commitment our officials have displayed during this meeting, I am reassured that the solution to the speedy voluntary repatriation of Namibian refugees in Botswana is in sight.
Within the new energy pumped into these issues, I can assure you that the Government of Namibia will work around the clock within our mandate to implement the resolutions of this commission, and expedite every step in the process of voluntary repatriation of refugees.
Iivula-Ithana added that the cordial tripartite collaboration between Namibia, Botswana and the UNHCR will be able to close the chapter of the Namibian refugees, adding Namibia is willing and ready to receive back all Namibian refugees in Botswana.
This clearly demonstrates the zeal and commitment towards finding a lasting solution to the Namibian refugees at Dukwi Camp. The documents adopted are done within the framework of the Tripartite Commission, which was established in 2002.
The commission commended Namibia for the successful integration of 21 returnees since the invocation of the cessation clause in 2015.
A cessation clause ending the recognition of Namibians as refugees at the camp came into effect on 31 December 2015.
However, these refugees approached the Botswana High Court seeking a restraining order to stop the Botswana Government from implementing the clause.
The refugees won the case.
The remaining refugees at the camp are part of close to 3 000 Namibians who fled the country in 2000 in the aftermath of a failed bid to secede the then Caprivi Region, now Zambezi, from the rest of the country in 1999.