News and Information

Voluntary repatriation hits a snag
April 20, 2005

20 April, 2005

FRANCISTOWN - Some Namibian refugees who had volunteered to be repatriated have backtracked. Only 12 out of the 29 refugees who had registered to go home made the trip on April 15.

Dukwi settlement commandant Ephraim Sekeinyana said the refugees advanced various reasons for their decision.

One family, said they changed their mind because they did not want to disturb their childrens education.

The family said they would consider relocating once their children had completed their studies.

Sekeinyana said some refugees might have backtracked because of wrong information given to them about the situation back home. Astrida Chaenda is one of those who have decided to stay.

The 31-year-told BOPA she came to Botswana with her Angolan husband but now my husband does not want us to go back to Namibia.

She said they registered to return home two years ago because of ill health. She did not have relatives in Botswana who could care for her.

Now that I have recovered I do not see any reason to go back.

She also said she did not want to disrupt her childrens education here because education in her country was not free: It might prove difficult to get education for my children once I get home.

For his part, 56-year-old Oscar Mulemwa, who was excited about going back home, said it was time the Namibians in Caprivi Strip and in other parts of the country buried their differences and worked together towards the development of their country.

Most of the Namibian refugees came to Botswana between 1998 and 1999 as asylum seekers. Their population has since risen to 1 000. They are under the care of the UNHCR at Dukwi.

Meanwhile, Caprivi Strip governor Bernard Sibalatani has assured the returnees of a better life in Namibia.

Speaking during a welcome ceremony held at Ngoma border post on the Namibian side, Sibalatani said he would liaise with relevant stakeholders to ensure that the returnees were helped in setting up projects that would help them sustain their lives.

This is your country. There is no place like home. Come home, the governor told Namibians who are still in other countries.

He said although there were some obstacles when the repatriation exercises started around 2002, things were moving smoothly as planned.

Sibalatani commended the hospitality that the Botswana government accorded to the Namibians during their stay at Dukwi refugees camp, adding that such international protection should continue.

He also commended media houses in Botswana for allowing free flow of information regarding the Namibian refugees.

Among the people who attended the official handing over was the acting Chobe District Commissioner Oganne Gontse, Namibian High Commissioner to Botswana Theresia Samaria, UNHCR representative in Botswana Benny Otim and the deputy permanent secretary (Political Affairs) in the Office of the President (OP) Bergsman Sentle. BOPA


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