Saturday, March 6, 2021

Police flush protesting refugees off UN buildings

Police on Monday dragged three Ugandan refugees out of the United Nations head offices who are involved in a sit-in at the building in Gaborone protesting what they argue are callous conditions at the Dukwi refugee camp.

One of the three refugees, Timothy Yamin said on Monday that the police ordered them to evacuate the UN buildings after they were called to the scene by senior management at the UNHCR offices.

“We are at the bus rank as we speak. But tomorrow we are going back again to the United Nations office. We won’t give up until this matter is resolved,” he said. He added that they were aware of that the Botswana Government was considering serving them with deportation letters.

┬áMeanwhile Senior Regional External Relations Officer for UNHCR Regional Office (Southern Africa”, Tina Ghelli confirmed that they don’t provide refugees with clothing.

┬á“Regrettably, clothing is not a standard item provided to refugees although. Nevertheless, in 2013, UNHCR managed to secure a clothing,” she said. Nevertheless, she said, in 2013, UNHCR managed to secure a clothing donation from the Japanese company, UNIQLO and distributed clothing to refugees in Dukwi. ┬áShe said UNHCR supports the government to provide protection and assistance to refugees in Botswana. UNHCR provides food rations on a monthly basis to all refugees in Dukwi.

According to Ghelli the ration provided in Botswana provides is slightly higher than the sphere standard of 2100 kilocalories per person per day. (The Sphere standard was established by humanitarian agencies, including UN and NGOs).

She said the current food ration per person provided on a monthly basis by UNHCR is:

12.5 kilograms of maize meal 1.5 kilograms of beans, 750 millilitres of vegetable oil 500 grams of salt , 200 grams 1 packet of soup 1 kilogram of one packet of sugar.

Ghelli said some households have backyard gardens to supplement their diet with vegetables.

“In addition, Dukwi refugee camp residents also benefit from the national Vulnerable Group Feeding Program, which provides monthly food supplements to children aged 6-59 months at health facilities,” she said.

She added that “we have met with these individuals many times to explain the resettlement process and how it works,” she said.

The hunger strikers claim they receive inadequate food rations and that they have not been provided with clothing for more than ten years. The tree asylum seekers resorted to hunger striking after UNHCR turned a deaf ear at their complaints.

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