With the help of the United Nation High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), Botswana will at the end of August repatriate refugees to Angola as part of ongoing efforts to repatriate refugees who originate from countries that have attained stability. This was disclosed by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Defense and Security, Augustine Makgonatsotlhe in an interview.
“We are working closely with stakeholders to repatriate some Angolans to their country of origin by the end of August,” he said.
While he was not able to say how many Angolans they will be repatriating, Makgonatsotlhe said the number will be significant. He added that they expect refugees from other countries in the region that have stabilized to also register so they can be assisted to return home. Refugees from Angola arrived in the country during the civil war that ravaged the country after it obtained independence from Portugal in 1970. Since the end of the civil war, the mineral rich country has enjoyed peace and economic growth, hence the call by Botswana government for the refugees to return home.
Besides Angolans, Botswana also wants refugees from countries such as Namibia and Zimbabwe to also return home for the same reasons that their countries had stabilized. However, the exercise will not apply to refugees from countries such as Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia where there are still military conflicts. Refugees from Namibia, on the other hand arrived in Botswana after the country attained independence from South Africa in 1990 whilst those from Zimbabwe first arrived after the so called Gukuruhundi massacres which occurred after country’s independence in 1980.
Recently, when addressing a gathering of refugees at Dukwi Refugee Camp on World Refugee Day, Makgonatsotlhe said that the scarcity of resources needed to meet refugees’ needs was the reason the country was working closely with UNHCR to ensure that those who want to return home are able to do so with dignity. He also expressed concern that whilst Botswana has a duty to protect refugees, some of them abuse the hospitality accorded to them and break the laws of the country.