DUKWI: The government of Botswanais facing a serious challenge inensuring that the basic needs of morethan 3000 refugees hosted in Dukwi refugeecamp are met.This was said by the Permanent Secretary(PS) in the Ministry of Defence, Justice andSecurity Augustine Makgonatsotlhe. He saidthat asylum is a temporary arrangement whererefugees have to be assisted to go about theirnormal lives and enjoy basic human conditionsalthough resources are scarce to meet theneeds of refugees.“That is why the government is workingclosely with the United Nations High Commissionerfor Refugees (UNHCR) to ensurethat those who want to return home are ableto return safely and with dignity.
So far wehave been able to negotiate with governmentsin countries of origin for repatriation of somerefugees,” he pointed out last week duringWorld Refugee Day commemoration.Makgonatsotlhe pointed out that while Botswanahas a duty to protect refugees; some ofthem on the other hand abuse the hospitalityaccorded to them and break the laws of thecountry.“The refugees also have a duty to abide bythe law of the host state, therefore the governmentwill not hesitate to take appropriate actionsagainst those who choose to disregardand fl out them.
So you have to desist fromwrong doings,” he warned.According to the PS, currently the refugeecamp has 360 HIV positive people of which281 are enrolled on the Anti Retroviral Treatmentin an effort to reduce the number ofhome based patients that stands at 10 patientsannually. Further with the assistance of UnitedNations, a total of US$ 509 88.15 has beenprovided for the HIV treatment, care and supportservices. “Despite these we are still facingchallenges of treatment interruptions andpoor adherence because of inability to accesstreatment when outside the camp due to alcoholism,”stated Makgonatsotlhe.
For his part, the Refugee Welfare CommitteeLeader Lucern Chimpinge admitted thatthey are aware of Botswana laws and willabide by them. He however pleaded with thegovernment to relax the encampment policyin order to allow the refugees to meaningfullycontribute to the economy by engaging in informalsector businesses. “It is true of late thegovernment has been detaining refugees wholeft the camp without exit permits and landedup in Francistown centre for illegal immigrants.Further there are reports of escalatingcrime in the Dukwi camp. So I appeal to myfellow refugees to stop these practices as theyhave a potential of straining our relations withour host,” he pleaded with fellow refugees.