Albertina Nakale WINDHOEK - Following the Botswana deadline that lapsed on July 14, more Namibian refugees from Dukwe are returning home voluntarily to avoid deportation by that country. This comes after Botswana took a decision to finally enforce a cessation clause with respect to the status of Namibian refugees living at Dukwe, which was invoked in 2015. These refugees were given a deadline to register in person for voluntary repatriation to Namibia from May 11 to July 11, 2018 or risk facing deportation as they are regarded as illegal immigrants. In an interview with New Era on the current situation, Namibia’s Commissioner for Refugees Likius Valombola said they received 41 refugees on Thursday (July 12) who have thus been reunited with their families and issued with voluntary repatriation packages. Valombola said they expect about 30 more refugees to arrive this Friday. Since the announcement of the deadline by the government of Botswana, 74 former refugees have been received in dignity and safety, he said. “They are well reunited with their families and transported to their various villages. I wish to accentuate that all former Namibian refugees in Botswana are Namibian and they will be received with both hands in the spirit of safety and dignity and no persecution of any kind will be subjected on them,” he maintained. For those who have not yet registered for the voluntary repatriation, Valombola noted that they are still awaiting the government of Botswana to update them on the matter. Some of the remaining Namibian refugees living at Dukwe recently petitioned the SADC Secretariat office in Gaborone, Botswana demanding that the regional body finds a lasting solution to what they term the “Caprivi political situation”. In this regard, Valombola said, “The ministry does not have latest update from SADC regarding the demand of Mr Felix Kakula who presented a signed petition by himself to SADC.” In 1999, thousands of residents of Zambezi Region fled the country into Botswana and other parts of the world after a failed attempt to militarily secede the region, then known as Caprivi, from Namibia. Approximately 2,000 of the 3,000 people who fled to Botswana have returned home since the beginning of the voluntary repatriation process, funded by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and supported by the two governments. UNHCR and its tripartite partners Namibia and Botswana are in unison, that conditions in Namibia are safe for a dignified voluntary return of the Dukwe refugees, as none of the Namibians that have so far returned home has been victimised, harassed or persecuted, contrary to the propaganda being spread by some of the hard-core refugees at Dukwe who have secessionist tendencies. Nonetheless, the remaining group of whom some have now returned at the time ignored the December 2015 deadline to return and lodged an appeal in the Botswana High Court against an initial forced repatriation, saying they may be arrested, tortured or detained without trial if they return home.
2018-07-17 08:56:35 2 months ago