Botswana: No Forced Removal of Namibian Refugees

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Gaborone — Contrary to media reports, there has been no forceful removal of former Namibian refugee students from school by any member of the Special Support Group (SSG).

The Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security explains in a press release that the children have had to be withdrawn from school to join their parents scheduled for deportation.

"It is worth noting that the Court of Appeal judgement of July 26th, 2019 confirmed the position that former Namibian refugees have to return to Namibia because they have ceased to be refugees in 2015," the release explains.

It says in preparation for their return to Namibia, they were given a one month grace period for voluntary registration.

"The legal implication of the Court of Appeal decision referred to above is that the former Namibian refugees are now classified as illegal immigrants and as a result they have to be treated as such under the Immigration Act and accordingly be deported," says the release.

It explains that the former Namibian refugees failed to take advantage of the dispensation extended to them to register for repatriation under the Tripartite Agreement (Botswana Government, UNHCR and Namibian Government).

Registration for voluntary repatriation, it says, would have among other things entitled them to UNHCR repatriation packages in the form of resettlement allowances as well as consideration for their children's educational placement in Namibia.

"Regrettably, three former Namibian refugee families out of 855 former Namibian refugees registered to be repatriated under the Tripartite Agreement," the release explains.

The statement says Botswana and Namibia senior officials were to meet yesterday to finalise logistical arrangements for the deportations.

<i>Source : BOPA</i>

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