Gaborone — 1. The Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security notes with dismay the news article in the Botswana Gazette of 01-07 October 2017, which portrays the Botswana Government as being unconcerned about the current situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the plight of refugees and internally displaced persons.
Furthermore the article is a sensational and misleading story targeting the management of refugees and asylum seekers by the Government of Botswana.
2. The Ministry would like to state for the record, that, refugees and asylum seekers in Botswana are managed within the provisions of the laws of Botswana being the Refugee Recognition and Control Act (CAP 25:01); as well as the international conventions that Botswana has ratified, in particular the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, the 1969 Organisation of African Union (OAU) Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa.
3. Refugee status is granted following an interview to determine eligibility. The Refugee Advisory Committee is a statutory committee appointed to assess claims for asylum. There is nothing secretive about the committee or the refugee status determination process. It should also be noted that the UNHCR is represented in the Refugee Advisory Committee.
4. The Government of Botswana is fully committed to attaining a durable solution to the refugee caseload of all the recognised refugees housed at Dukwi Refugee Camp. It must be appreciated that the safety and welfare of the asylum seekers is the responsibility of the Government of Botswana. In this regard, the Government is committed to receiving and protecting refugees in accordance with provisions of the international human rights governing the status of refugees, including complying with obligations to provide education and health to children.
5. The Government of Botswana has dedicated educational and health care facilities at Dukwi Refugee Camp therefore reports that children are being denied education are false. Currently at Dukwi Refugee Camp, refugee children are offered free basic education from Pre-school, Primary to Secondary school. It should be noted that while all this education is provided free to refugees, Batswana parents are required to make a contribution of P300-P450 per child for basic education and others are sponsoring post - secondary education/training for their children.
6. The Primary School is a Group two (2) category with an enrolment capacity of at least 600 learners. There are three hundred and seventy-seven (377) refugee children enrolled for Primary School and one hundred and fifty-one (151) at Secondary level. The Government of Botswana in collaboration with Skillshare International Botswana also provides vocational training to refugees.
A total of one hundred and forty (140) refugees are enrolled for dressmaking (16), hairdressing (28), computers (38), electrical (10) and English for Communication (48).Refugees are also enrolled in Brigades in Tutume, Mosetse and Gweta, while others are enrolled in the University of Botswana.
7. Regarding healthcare, the Government of Botswana also provides free health care to all refugees. There is a clinic with a maternity ward and a twenty-four (24) hour resident doctor. If there is a need for specialist medical treatment they are referred to Nyangabgwe Referral Hospital at Francistown. The clinic also has two ambulances to expedite medical attention and patient referrals. Unlike for Batswana no fees are paid to access healthcare services.
8. The media is expected to always be factual, balanced and fair in their reporting as per the codes of Media Practice and Professional Standards. It is regrettable that the writer of the article chose not to inform himself of the facts, processes and policies involved in refugee status determination before making such sweeping conclusions and judgement, thereby portraying the Botswana Government as having little or no regard for human rights.
9. Finally, it should also be appreciated that Botswana has an impeccable humanitarian record of assisting people fleeing persecution that spans over four decades.
Source : BGCIS