5 June 2018

Botswana: Namibia to Meet Botswana Over Refugees

Photo: Samuel Okoror/IRIN
Refugees Camp (file photo).

ACTING chief of immigration Nehemiah Nghishekwa yesterday said they expect to meet Botswana officials this week regarding the fate of refugees at the Dukwe camp.

He told Prime Minister Saara Kuungongelwa-Amadhila during a visit to the home affairs offices in Windhoek that Botswana has given the refugees two months to leave, or face deportation.

About 3 000 Namibians, mostly from the Zambezi region, sought refuge in Botswana in 1999 after the aborted secessionist bid. Of this number, 922 are still living in Botswana.

"Botswana has given our refugees two months, and after that, they will be deported. Botswana invited the Namibian government for a meeting, during which the processes would be discussed," Nghishekwa said.

Despite the two-month ultimatum, Namibian government officials will meet the Botswana officials on Thursday.

He furthermore told the Prime Minister that Namibia hosts 7 684 asylum seekers from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia, Eritrea and Zimbabwe.

A total of 4 284 people are accommodated at the Osire Refugee Camp, while 3 400 had left the camp with permission to either study or work.

Nghishekwa noted that the ministry was in the process of acquiring passports for refugees similar to the Namibian passport, but with a different colour.

"The refugees who are recognised are issued with refugee identity cards, and those who need to travel abroad would be issued with passports.

However, the challenges we face is that usually, people who are not permitted to enter Namibia still enter the country in another manner. The circulation of fraudulent passports for foreign nationals is creating a challenge for the ministry's officials," he stressed.

Furthermore, 1 595 migrants were prohibited from entering the country during the 2016/17 year.

During the same period, home affairs issued 77 873 passports, 6 408 employment permits, 37 820 work visas and 1 128 permanent residence permits.

The civil registration director, Anette Bayer-Forsingdal, explained that the home affairs ministry recorded 44 176 and 18 964 births and deaths, respectively, during 2017 through the e-national population registration system.

She added that during the period under review, the ministry saw a total of 10 063 teenage pregnancies, while child mortalities for under one-year-olds were at 14%, or 2 762.

The same system also recorded a total of 44 719 children turning seven in 2019, with 25 869 Namibians expected to turn 60 in 2019.

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