Botswana, Namibia to begin repatriation of Namibian refugees

Map of Namibia

The governments of Botswana and Namibia on Tuesday agreed to start the repatriation of hundreds of Namibian refugees who have been living in Botswana for the past two decades on Sept. 19.

Thobo Letlhage, director of refugee management and welfare told Xinhua in a telephone interview that the refugees will be repatriated back to Namibia as of Sept. 19, 2019 from the Dukwi Refugee Camp, which is situated some 530 km northwest of Botswana’s capital, Gaborone.

“The repatriation will start on Thursday this week. All the logistics have been put in place for the refugees to be repatriated,” said Letlhage, adding that the process is a long-lasting solution to the refugees.

At least 2,400 Namibian nationals, mainly from the then Caprivi strip, fled to Botswana in 1999 following a botched attempt to secede the region from Namibia which left 11 people dead, amongst them six members of the security forces.

Over the years, the Namibian refugees have been returning in dribs and drabs, she said, adding that the remaining 852 have been resisting taking up the voluntary repatriation despite an existing tripartite agreement signed among the two countries and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

“Being a refugee is not a permanent status. So, when the conditions are conducive for refugees to return to their native countries, it is advisable for them to do so hence encouraging the Namibian refugees to take up repatriation because refugee status is not permanent,” said Letlhage.