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Namibian refugees still not ready for repatriation

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BOAGO RAMAPHANE

Felix Kakula, one of The Namibian refugees in Botswana has revealed that they are not ready for repatriation yet.  This comes after media reports from Namibia stated that representatives from both the government of Botswana and Namibia convened in Katima Mulilo recently, Namibia where at decision to resume repatriation for the Namibian refugees was agreed on.
“We hear about the resumption of our repatriation in newspapers and we were never involved in the processes towards that decision. We are still saying the Namibian government should involve us; open a dialogue and hear us,” Kakula explained in an interview with The Botswana Gazette.
The two governments had previously set the deadline of 31st December 2015, for voluntary repatriation to be carried out but the Namibia refugees approached courts of law following which the planned deportation of about 730  of them was put on hold.
Kakula argues that the two governments should have contacted them as they feel they need dialogue with the Namibian government. “We have questions that still have to be answered before we can go back. Why is it so difficult for them to engage in a dialogue with us so we can find solutions to our problem?” He adds that the looming repatriation has left many of the refugees distraught as they fear that history will again repeat itself.
“They are doing the same thing again, not involving us in decisions that affect us but as long as they will not force us to go back to Namibia we will wait and see what transpires. But they are just wasting their resources by not doing the right thing,” he said.
Kakula explained that as long as the two governments sideline them in decision making processes, they will not allow those decisions to be imposed on them in any way. “They should involve us not inform us,” he said.
The Namibian refugees are in Botswana following a short-lived secessionist uprising of August 2, 1999 masterminded by disgruntled and currently exiled former Member of Parliament Mishake Muyongo. The uprising was however successfully suppressed by the Namibian Defence Force.
However only eight Namibian refugees, consisting of four families have since taken up the offer to voluntarily go back home and were handed over to the Namibian government on the 29th of January 2016. Among  reasons the current group is giving for not going back home is their compatriots are still held in prisons in Namibia, with some still fleeing the country due to persecution by government. Kakula says to go back home, they need guarantees by the Namibian government that they will be safe and enjoy their freedom.

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