More than 900 Namibian refugees who fled to Botswana in 1999 after the Caprivi strip disturbances are resisting a joint effort by the two countries to repatriate them. wpid-africa-sudan-juba-khartoum-IOM-refugees-05152012.jpg
Both governments agreed that the remaining Namibian refugees should return to their country by Dec. 31 this year.
The 988 refugees are part of about 3,000 who sought sanctuary at Dukwe Camp in Botswana after the failed secessionist revolt that rocked the Caprivi strip 16 years ago.
Over the years, more than 2,000 others have been repatriated to Namibia voluntarily by a tripartite commission made up of Botswana, Namibia and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.
The agreement was reached between Namibia’s minister of immigration Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana and Botswana’s Minister of Defence, Justice and Security, Shaw Kgathi in Windhoek last month.
Part of the agreement states that Botswana will not allow any Namibian refugee to stay in the country as of Dec. 31 2015.
The agreement also sought to invoke the Cessation Clause that allowed Namibian refugees to stay in Botswana.
According to the cessation clause, a person’s refugee status that was legitimately granted would end on Dec. 15 2015 but those granted amnesty for political offenses would stay a bit longer.
Those who could be allowed to stay under amnesty are a few women and children.
Soon after the agreement, the refuges handed over a petition to the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the government of Botswana.
They are arguing that the date set for them to repatriate is not practical, and that it is still not safe for them to return to Namibia.
In addition, they state that Namibia’s ruling party Swapo was not willing to meet some of their demands as agreed between the government and a now defunct political party ? the United Democratic Party – that represented them.
Neither SADC nor the UNHCR has issued a statement in response to the petition. Enditem

Source: Xinhua

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