Abandoned former Caprivian refugees in Botswana

On behalf of Caprivian refugees in Dukwi refugee Camp in Botswana, the Caprivi Consultative Committee [CCC] wish to join millions who have already openly denounced and condemned the devilish approach of forceful and inhuman deportation of Caprivian refugees without profoundly examining the facts and factors associated with what made them to be in Botswana. Despite being so disillusioned by the action taken without doubts, this is unbelievable and a shocker to us. In this case, both Namibia, Botswana government and UNHCR failed the simple reasonable person test for taking a dubious decision of forceful deportation.

Mr. Dunbar Mushwena , Chairperson: Caprivi Consultative Committee

As country-men the CCC deeply oppose this unwarranted move taken by the Botswana, Namibia and the UNHCR the so-called overseer and the protectors of the refugees. We are highly saddened and discontent with the awful political hypocrisy and rhetoric of the Botswana and Namibian leaders who target vulnerable people leaving matters of public concern on their tables.

We are extremely disappointed but not surprised to learn that there are still countries in this modern world acting strangely in issues that are recognized internationally and fail to cooperate & adhere to the rule of law. More critical to us, we  understand that, Botswana is a signatory to the 1969 Organization of African Unity Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa which they signed on the 6thJanuary 1969

When Botswana acceded to the 1951 Convention related to the status of refugees, we believe all successive leaders were meant to abide by International laws to demonstrate their commitment to the treatment of refugees in accordance with internationally recognized legal and refugee humanitarian standards.

Few years back reminds us of the organized “Go and see, come and tell” mission, which is still fresh in the minds of these people which became a disappointment to UNHCR about the outcome of that mission. UNHCR Botswana should be asked about what happened if the security was pleasant for these refugees. We all know that many brothers and friends of these refugees are still incarcerated in prison for the same reasons that these people escaped from.

Botswana and UNHCR for their role in this political chicanery of deception for turning a blind eye on issues happening in Namibia will one day put on spot light. Botswana once deported Caprivians who are still languishing in prison to date, what other evidence do they need to justify this insensitive and brutal behavior of the nonsensical Government of Namibia?

These Caprivian refugees are in Botswana on humanitarian grounds and should be understood by both Botswana and Namibia as such. It is important to inform you that the threat to return these helpless refugees started long back but what we know is that UNHCR Botswana and regional office in Pretoria – South Africa has always shown very little in terms of advocating on their behalf. We have no doubt that these people deserve justice and protection, rather than forceful deportation

We strongly object the agreement between Botswana and Namibia made by the two governments, to carry out their clandestine move which doesn’t align to refugee protection rights in conformity to the international instruments governing the status of refugees. The United Nations High Commissioner for refugees must be reminded about its Mission statement which we believe might have been overlooked. UNHCR’s primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees. UNHCR is a United Nations programme with the mandate to protect refugees rather than deporting innocent harmless people.

In addition to that, they are three options or solutions open for refugees to be considered, if at all the situation is not conducive for them wherever they are or in any hosting country. It is the prerogative of the UNHCR to quickly devise means to rescue the concerned refugees, in this case the Caprivians in Dukwi Camp.

As stated above, before resorting to unwise decision all options on the ground should be exhausted. They are three fundamental options the UNHCR could have focused at, namely: voluntary repatriation, local integration and finally resettlement to a third country in circumstances where it is impossible for a person to go back home or remain in the host country due to security reasons.

We therefore, strongly without doubts in our minds that the UNHCR should have played a pivotal role to evacuate these unfortunate people before their situation exacerbated. It should be made categorically clear that both the UNHCR and Government Botswana will be responsible for the consequences of the deportation of these refugees. It is a disappointment for Botswana and UNHCR to sign for a deportation without considering any safe-net of these people when returned back home.

 Botswana was well known for respecting the rule of law and complying with the International standards on human rights. Disappointingly we are really puzzled what exactly transpired or not knowing whether this is another fashion of Xenophobia on its highest level of allowing poor refugees on the run to be forcefully deported without recognizing other meaningful alternative solutions to the problem.  It is a shame to Botswana for using vulnerable people of the status of refugees as ransoms in exchange of relationship.

In conclusion, we have one message to Botswana to take note of the fact that what goes around will always come around. In the similar disposition, if the Namibian government feel they have won the war, we want to send them the simple message that in no uncertain terms Namibia will regret their action and we admit and submit that we will save ourselves from this situation.

We therefore wholeheartedly wish to invite the international Community, peace loving nations and charity organizations particularly the United Nations to step forward or intervene to help these people who are between the rock and the hard thing.

In the same vein the CCC would like to call upon all Caprivians both at home and those in diaspora to come out from our comfort zones and stand together to collectively find a common ground to speak one powerful united voice for us to achieve our ultimate goal.

It is time and incumbent on us to lay a more comprehensive and strong foundation for the generation to come than sowing the seed of disunity among our fellow Caprivians.

It is our responsibility as Caprivians to strongly say “No” to black colonialism of the Namibian government as we bravely walk to liberate our beloved country-Caprivi Strip through all diplomatic means.

From: Caprivi Consultative Committee














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