Dukwe repatriation plans in full swing

17 April 2018 | International

Efforts to repatriate 916 Namibians from the Dukwe refugee camp in Botswana are at an advanced stage, home affairs minister Frans Kapofi said during the delivery of his ministry's budget in the National Assembly recently.

According to him, the Namibian government is working closely with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Botswana government to guarantee the safe return of the group.

“The remaining number of Namibian refugees in the Dukwe refugee camp stands at 916.

Government is committed to the principle of voluntary repatriation as a durable solution; hence we are working together with the government of Botswana and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to ensure their return in a dignified manner,” Kapofi said.

According to Kapofi, consultations on a tripartite commission on the matter are at an advanced stage.

“Twenty Namibian refugees from the Dukwe refugee camp in Botswana were repatriated in dignity and safety and are now with their family members in Namibia,” Kapofi said.

Botswana president Mokgwetsi Masisi said during a visit to State House last week that his government was exploring all options to ensure that the Namibians at Dukwe are returned home.

He said they no longer had refugee status and Botswana regarded them as illegal immigrants.

“There are laws that govern what you do and how you conduct thebusiness of illegal immigrants and that will follow.

“If there are Batwana who are in Namibia as illegal immigrants, I am sure the laws of Namibia will also result in them being assisted to go home.

“So, we await the outcome of possible engagement but we want to make this clear,” Masisi was quoted as saying.

The group fled to Botswana after a failed attempt to secede the then Caprivi Region from Namibia.

The Botswana government initially planned 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).

OGONE TLHAGE

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