Namibian refugees petition SADC as Botswana ‘kicks’ them out

  • They want SADC to arrange for peaceful talks between Namibia and Caprivi
  • They vow not to leave HQ until SADC-HQ reacts
  • 11 July is deadline to leave Botswana or face deportation

LETLHOGILE MPUANG

The Namibian refugees residing at Dukwi refugee camp yesterday (Monday) presented a petition to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in which they plead to SADC to facilitate for peaceful talks between the Namibian government and Caprivians.
This comes after the Botswana government gave them a notice that their refugees status will no longer be recognized after the 11th of July 2018. This comes after the government took a decision to enforce a cessation clause with respect to the Namibian refugee status which was invoked in 2015. Those who register will be facilitated to return to Namibia as per the provisions of the Tripartite Agreement that is between the Governments of Botswana, Namibia and the UNHCR, the government of Botswana said recently.
In January 2016 a court interdict halted their deportation and since then, a good number of the refugees took voluntary repatriation and went back to Namibia, while some still remained behind, citing that their lives still remained in danger back home.
Following threats of deportation on the 11th July the refugees have now turned to SADC to intervene in their situation.
Speaking on behalf of those who had presented the petition to the SADC secretariat Felix Kakula told The Botswana Gazette that they are pleading to the regional body to afford them a platform to settle this political issue.
“We have also previously written to SADC, but they have been very reluctant. The situation we now find ourselves in is that we are unwanted this side (Botswana) and also unwanted that side (Namibian). SADC is our last resort. We only asking them to create a platform to help us address this political matter, it is there within their structures,” said Kakula who further stating they will not be leaving the SADC headquarters until something to address their situation.
“We are told that the Executive Secretary is attending a meeting in Angola, but we will not be leaving this place, SADC Headquarters, even if they chase us, we will be back here again tomorrow. We have during our time here (Botswana), written letters, pleading with the Namibian and Botswana governments seeking a platform where this political issues can be resolved. The two countries have not been responding, meanwhile they continue pressure us to take voluntary repatriation, SADC is now our only hope.” he explained.
The disgruntled refugees further say should SADC fail to intervene in their case, which however they are hopeful will act, they will be killed or imprisoned back in Namibia.
“If SADC will not intervene, let Botswana do as us they want, deport us and throw us to Namibia and they will see what will happen to us. We will be killed and imprisoned because we will not keep quiet until we see Caprivi liberated. We are not part and parcel of Namibia,” concluded the refugees’ spokesperson.
The refugees have been given until 11 July to leave Botswana or face deportation.

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