Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Botswana withdraws refugee status of two Ugandan asylum seekers who went on hunger strike

Botswana this week withdrew the refugee status of two Ugandan asylum seekers who were detained for three months without charge after going on a hunger-strike in protest against living conditions at Dukwi Refugee Camp. The pair was arrested and detained at Francistown Centre for Illegal Immigration after they launched a two man protest hunger strike outside the United Nations Complex in Gaborone. The duo refugees wrote in a letter expressing their concern after they were detained at Francistown Centre for Illegal Immigrants for three months after their peaceful demonstration at UN High Commission for Refugees Gaborone.

Minister of Defence, Justice and Security Principal Public Relations Officer, Samma Tabudi stated in an interview that the government had nullified their refugee status. Tabudi said that the refugee status was nullified after they failed to abide by certain requirements of the refugee code while in Botswana. She said after government realized that they were not law abiding the government moved to nullify their status. Tabudi stated that at the moment they have not yet taken a decision on whether to deport them back to the country. The two refugees Timothy Yamin and Musa Mohammed stated in the letter that they were arrested for three months at the Centre and were never charged for any offence. The two have indicated in the letter that they were not allowed to see their families after they were arrested.

When quizzed this week on why the refugees were detained the Minister of Defence, Justice and Security , Ramadeluka Seretse stated that the two were arrested because they were illegal immigrants. Seretse said that the pair is still being detained at the Centre because they are illegal immigrants. Seretse argued that they are illegal immigrants despite that they have been given refugee status in Botswana.

Seretse could not state when their refugee status was renounced but emphasized that they were illegal immigrants. The Department of Immigration , Director Pule Mabuse stated in interview that he has never received any report about the two refugees detained in Francistown. Pule explained that he only knew that the two were refugees since they were given the refugee status.

He said that he was only aware that Ugandan national known as Peter Muganga was found to be protesting at UN High Commissioner of Refugees . He said that he was not aware that Yamin and Mohammed were illegal immigrants. Three months back Central Police Station Commander, Assistant Superintendent Keoagile Tau told Sunday Standard that the Ugandan refugees who were arrested at UN High Commissioner for Refugees were awaiting repatriation back to Dukwi camp. The refugees were arrested after their protest at UN agency for refugees for appalling conditions at the camp. The two refugees claimed that despite the UNHCR failure to help them with food and clothing they even went to block their request to resettle in their country of choice where they will be able to work for themselves.

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