Albertina Nakale WINDHOEK - As Botswana’s July 11 deadline looms to deport Namibian refugees from Dukwe, some of the affected Namibians at that refugee camp have started making their way back home to avoid their repatriation packages being forfeited. About 22 of them were voluntarily repatriated yesterday and will be integrated in their communities with guarantee of safety and dignity, as has been the case with hundreds of others who returned to Namibia over the years. This was revealed by Namibia’s Commissioner for Refugees Likius Valombola in an interview with New Era yesterday. Valombola said voluntary repatriation packages will be availed to those returning home, to enable them to find their feet at their respective villages. 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. Before the July 11 deadline, Valombola said Botswana hosted up to 916 Namibians and immediately after the deadline was announced, seven Namibian refugees registered for voluntary repatriation and were received on June 14. “They are now with their families, well integrated into their communities in Zambezi Region. Like those who have voluntarily repatriated before, they are well settled within their communities and no one was persecuted or questioned. The government of Namibia is resolute in ensuring that they return in a dignified manner and integrated into their communities without fear of persecution,” said the refugee commissioner. Some of the remaining Namibian refugees living at Dukwe earlier this month petitioned the SADC Secretariat office in Gaborone, Botswana, demanding that the regional body find a lasting solution to what they term as “Caprivi political situation”. Botswana has taken a decision to finally enforce a cessation clause with respect to the status of Namibian refugees living at Dukwe, which was invoked in 2015.This directive by the Botswana Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security came after that country’s president, Mokgweetsi Masisi, visited Windhoek in April and said Namibian refugees at Dukwe, Botswana were no longer regarded as refugees by his government but as illegal immigrants. The group vowed they will only return back home if the Namibian government accepts them as members of the United Democratic Party (UDP) along with their Denmark-based leader Mishake Muyongo and former chief Boniface Mamili. In this regard, Valombola said the government of Namibia knows they are Namibian nationals and it is on that basis it is striving to have them voluntarily repatriated from Botswana in a dignified manner. He noted that those being repatriated have denounced hostilities towards the government of Namibia and offered themselves to the protection of the government and honour the Namibian Constitution without exception. “The government of Namibia’s position is clear without ambiguity on the current development regarding the Namibian refugees at Dukwe refugee camp in Botswana, as per the deadline of July 11, 2018,” Valombola said. “The government of the Republic of Namibia is ready to receive its citizens back home with open hands because there is no point for them to live in Botswana as refugees as per the Tripartite Commission between the Namibia, Botswana governments and UNHCR on voluntary repatriation,” he said. Similarly, he said the Namibia government has received a communiqué from SADC on Wednesday regarding the petition handed to the Secretariat by the group’s spokesperson Felix Kakula. He reported that the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration is consulting with relevant stakeholders on the matter. Valombola said that government is prepared to receive its citizens with guaranteed safety and dignity upon registering for voluntary repatriation and issue them with repatriation packages, such as building materials. Those without Namibia identity documents will be issued with some. According to him, as it was agreed at the previous Tripartite Commissions, they will be treated as those who were already repatriated by engaging local stakeholders with regards to the resettlement and re-integration back into their various communities. Furthermore, he said they will participate in the socio-economic development programmes available in their constituencies and communities without any persecution. With regard to school going population, he says they will definitely be admitted in their respective levels of schooling. “Unfortunately, for those who fail to register for voluntary repatriation will forfeit the voluntary repatriation packages. Nevertheless, those who will be deported will be still received and go to their villages,” he maintained.
New Era Reporter
2018-06-29 09:17:51 6 months ago