Botswana boots Namibian refugees

17 September 2019 | International

The deportation of 855 Namibian refugees living in Botswana will start today after Botswana nullified their refugee status.

The now illegal immigrants have refused to be repatriated, as they claim fearing persecution by authorities in Namibia.

According to the commissioner for refugees in the ministry of home affairs and immigration, Likius Valombola, the Botswana government will transport the first group of refugees to Katima Mulilo today.

“From there the government of Namibia will take over and transport them to their villages. Because they were given a grace period to be voluntarily repatriated but they did not, they will not receive money or food from UNHCR. But the government will only give them food for three months, the same ration the UNHCR gave them,” he said.

Valombola added that after three months the refugees will have to fend for themselves.

These refugees include members of the United Democratic Party, who fled Namibia and lived at the Dukwe refugee camp in Botswana after a failed attempt to secede the Zambezi Region from Namibia in 1999.

According to Valombola the process will run until the end of October.

In 2015, after some families had agreed to voluntary repatriation, the Botswana government announced plans to deport the remaining Namibians living at Dukwe by 31 December 2015.

But in January 2016 the Botswana High Court halted the planned deportation of the remaining 880 refugees.

Recently, 13 Namibians living at the Dukwe refugee camp arrived in Namibia on a 'come and see, go and tell' mission but were immediately sent back.

The mission, which was supposed to last four days, was brought to an abrupt halt after the group started spreading secessionist ideas and campaigned for people to join the banned United Democratic Party (UDP).

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