Five Zimbabwean refugees contest repatriation to their country

APA-Gaborone (Botswana)

Five Zimbabwean refugees have lodged a complaint against the Botswana government over its decision to repatriate them back to their country, an official said on Friday.

Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security director for refugee management and welfare Thobo Letlhage told the state-run Botswana Daily News that the five Zimbabwean males have served her ministry with a statutory notice challenging the ongoing process of taking them back to their homeland.

She, however, said the challenge did not affect the process of repatriating those who had registered to voluntarily return home.

According to Letlhage, those who had registered for voluntary repatriation have been divided into four groups, with the first batch of 48 Zimbabwean refugees having left Dukwi Refugee Camp in central Botswana on Tuesday this week.

A second group of refugees was expected to leave this week while two other batches would be repatriated next week.

The repatriation exercise follows a decision by the Botswana authorities government, Zimbabwe government and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees that the conditions that initially made the refugees flee their homeland had since changed and they were no longer under threat if they returned home. 

There are about 700 Zimbabwean refugees at Dukwi camp, the majority of whom escaped alleged persecution by the government.

Letlhage said should all the Zimbabwean refugees be repatriated, the camp would be left with about nationals of Somalia, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan.

She said the situation in those countries would continue to be monitored and assessed and their nationals repatriated when conditions improved.


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