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Refugees plead for ARVs
June 25, 2007
Refugees plead for ARVs

Tsaone Basimanebotlhe

6/20/2007 2:28:18 AM (GMT +2)

Refugees in Dukwi have made an impassioned plea to the government of Botswana to extend the Anti Retroviral (ARV) therapy programme to them.

Relating their heartrending ordeal to the Minister for Justice, Defense and Security Phandu Skelemani during the commemoration of the World Refugee Day Wednesday this week, refugees mostly women lamented that they are being excluded from the programme as they are non-citizens of this country.

The refugees, who solely rely on handouts from well wishers, said the mortality rate in the camp is always high as pregnant women have also been denied access to the useful Prevention from Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) programme. “HIV/AIDS has claimed many lives in the camp. Children born in the camp are not healthy. And they hardly reach the age of five. We have lost hope in life and are making a plea to the Botswana government to at least help us,” pleaded one of the refugees. Responding to their request Skelemani told them government does not have money to extend the programme to the foreigners. “The government is still struggling to reach out to every Motswana due to financial problems,” he said. Refugee Community chairperson Victor Ilunga Njila lamented that refugee children are not exempted from paying development fees, school fees and uniforms as is the case with vulnerable nationals. The Minister said that he was not aware that refugee students were not exempted from paying school fees.


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