Government has sent a high-powered delegation to Botswana for “substantive” discussions with Caprivian refugees who refuse to return to Namibia.
In the wake of tit-for-tat talks between the two countries with the refugees, the Namibian government has maintained that the refugees will not be persecuted if they come home before the 11 July 2018 deadline set by the government of Botswana.
On that day the refugee status of remaining Namibian refugees in Dukwi will cease and they will be classified as illegal immigrants, subsequently risking being deported from Botswana.
The Minister of Information and Communication Technology Stanley Simataa, deputy minister of Works and Transport James Sankwasa and Swapo backbencher Margaret Mahoto are currently in Botswana in a bid to convince the refugees to return.
The trio, The Patriot understands, has been tasked to convince the remaining group to return home. The delegation members all hail from Zambezi Region where the refugees originated from.
Speaking to The Patriot from Dukwi yesterday, Simataa did not divulge much when queried about the mission to Botswana.
“Wait for the appropriate platform, you will get the information when the time is right.
We will share the information once we are back home and once we have informed our principal,” said Simataa.
It is alleged that several refugees were arrested by the Botswana Police Service after leaving the refugee camp without permission to go and petition the SADC Secretariat in order to force the secretariat to urge Botswana to rescind its ultimatum which will eventually forcefully send them back home.
The refugees were allegedly taken to Molepolole prison, before being taken to Francistown Centre which is reserved for illegal immigrants.
The group wants President Hage Geingob to make use of his discretionary powers to adopt a referendum proposing a well-organised political dialogue over the Caprivi Strip.
The Patriot’s sister publication in Botswana earlier this month reported that Namibian refugees said they would rather be deported back to their native country rather than registering for a voluntary repatriation.
The Namibian Government aims at ensuring the safety and the wellbeing of the refugees in the country, the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs and Immigration Maureen Hinda at Osire Refugee Settlement, during the commemoration of the World Refugee Day in Otjozondjupa Region.
While commemorating World Refugee Day last week, she highlighted that the commemoration of the day lay emphasis on the projects that are specifically to resettle and provide for refugees worldwide to rebuild quality lives and it raises awareness about the challenging situations refugees are facing.
“As we commemorate this day, we need to reflect more on our action as human beings and responsible global citizens. Often some of our actions have a negative effect on others especially the most vulnerable members of the society, the women and children who bare the terrible brunt of displacement,” she expressed.
She further said Namibia is a baby of international solidarity and it remains committed to provide support and protection to asylum seekers and refugees in accordance with the national and international legal instrument as it has emerged from liberation struggle through armed, political, and diplomacy.
Moreover Hinda said currently Namibia holds 7 684 refugees from different countries in Africa – a favor that Namibia is returning to regions which gave a helping hand to Namibians during the liberation struggle.
For the improvement of the services being rendered by Namibia to refugees and asylum seekers, the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration is processing the refugees Travelling Documents.
Back in the day, refugees were issued with United Nations travel document by the UN Refugees Agency (UNHCR) to either travel for health and education reasons, but this has stopped since the UNHCR moved to Pretoria.
In this regard Namibia has taken the responsibility to be the host country.