- Accused of sharing information with the media
- Asylum seekers plead for help
FRANCISTOWN: Government is said to be barring good Samaritans from assisting asylum seekers who are stranded at the Francistown Centre For Illegal Immigrants without food or accommodation.
Government moved swiftly to stop providing the asylum seekers with food insisting they are no longer under its responsibility. This move which sources have described as retributive follows a recent Francistown High Court order which declared the detention of the asylum seekers unlawful and ordering their release. Upon hearing about the situation, good Samaritans who include an NGO, started providing the asylum seekers with food and other basic provisions and had wanted to continue doing so in the interim while a solution is being found.
The asylum seekers have informed The Botswana Gazette that following its initial story on this development, the volunteers helping them were barred from assisting them further, leaving them in a dire and dehumanizing condition.
“Following the story that was written about our starvation here, this has changed from better to worse because the good people who were feeding us have been barred from entering the premises because they were now accused of sharing what is happening with the media. Upon enquiry we learn that the government lied that they are feeding us, while in actual fact the government is not providing us with food. When we asked for food they come with condition that we should go back to the holding cells. But we cannot go back into detention while the High Court has ordered for our release and transportation to Dukwi refugee camp,” revealed the leader of an advocacy group for stranded asylum Egama Ngezi in a telephone interview.
Additionally the group which includes Cubahiro Didero, Amani Mulanga, Jacob Mtumba, Musa Kassongo and Kita Ntambwe Mbayo Huseni- told this publication after the recent court order their temporary shelters were demolished and that they now sleep in an open space inside the center’s premises. “Just imagine sleeping in an open space with our small kids, some are already ill because of this condition. We are no longer with necessary basic needs which include food and water to bath. They say for us to bath is when we go back inside the custody. How can we go back to the custody while the court has declared that to be unlawful? We are really pleading for help from anyone outside there,” pleaded Ngezi.
The asylum seekers are meant to be transported to the Dukwi Refugee Camp and it has had to take an urgent court order last Thursday to compel government to facilitate their transportation and transference. Government has been stalling to help them, leaving them unsheltered and unfed instead. “Since the government delayed our transportation it should at least give us food, or just leave the Good Samaritan to keep on assisting us,” lamented another asylum seeker.
Their lawyer, Morgan Moseki, who managed to get an order after an urgent application- also confirms the barring of the volunteers who have been trying to help the asylum seekers. “I can confirm that they have been barred from feeding the asylum seekers. My intention is now to take these foods and go and feed them,” he vowed.
In a recent interview, the Botswana Prisons Spokesperson Wamorena Ramolefhe claimed that asylum seekers were not being denied food even though how volunteers ended up cooking and providing them food.