Namibian refugees petition SADC over the Caprivi dispute
A group of refugees from Dukwi Refugee Camp consisting of women only have appealed to SADC to intervene in what they term “The bloody conflict between Namibia and Caprivi”.
They delivered a petition to Dr. Lawrence Tax at SADC headquarters in Gaborone last Monday, appealing for a peaceful resolution to the matter. “We appeal to SADC to emulate African Commission on human rights and People’s rights to persuade Namibia to respect the rights of the Caprivian people. The commission has stood openly urging Namibia to resolve the alleged human rights violations including the main factor of illegal occupation of the Caprivi Strip in the whole matter as the complainant communication states,” the petition read.
The refugees say they reached out to SADC because Namibia is a member, and it was obliged to foster peace and development in the region. They argued that SADC’s intervention could compel Namibia to resolve the issue through peaceful means.
The Caprivians still insist on their autonomy, saying Caprivi was never part of Germany West Africa, now Namibia. “To stress our point we hereby submit that, many times we have asked Swapo Government to honor the agreement of 5thNovember 1964 signed by Mr. Muyongo and Mr. Sam Nujoma in Lusaka, where they agreed to join forces and fight the common enemy that was occupying Caprivi and South West Africa/ Namibia,” they say in the petition
“The history of Caprivi is very clear and stands out without any fallacy and prejudice depicting heavily without ambiguous that Caprivi Strip is an independent territory that has a right to govern itself,” they argued, criticizing the then Minister of the Republic Sam Nujoma who later as President “signed an act of Parliament into law on the 24th June 1999, in this regard Caprivian people were not consulted, neither were they informed after the annexation of Caprivi to Namibia. We reject it and it is therefore illegal,” they state.
It is almost 17 years since the Namibians fled into Botswana due to political conflicts that erupted in Namibia, and they say the failure of dialogue over the years has concerned them, hence their decision to approach SADC to establish if Namibia was interesting in resolving the matter peacefully. They also said they wanted to know SADC’s position on the matter.
“We assume that Botswana and Namibia are ignoring the problem by insisting on three refugee durable solutions; being Voluntary repatriation, Local integration and Resettlement. This approach and agreement by the two governments had not in the past involved us, neither are any prospects of doing so in the future, we the affected party in the dispute,” they said, requesting SADC to create a platform where two disputed issues can be resolved.
“We are being harassed and humiliated as women by the two governments officials, saying we do not know what happened on the 2nd August 1999 since we were not involved, so we must return home with our children,” they said.
“We are not going to go to Namibia through voluntary repatriation, or go for forced resettlement, neither are we interested with local integration but we want a solution to our problem so that we return home in peace, dignity and restoration of our broken humanity,” they declared.