Sunday, September 20, 2020

Zimbabwe Refugees crowd Dukwi

The Botswana Red Cross Society has been given the green light to mobilize logistical providences to be able to respond proactively to any possible spill off from the Zimbabwean boarders.
This follows tensions emanating from political uncertainty and anxiety in Zimbabwe, following the controversial results of the March 29th elections which continue to heighten, and SADC countries find that they cannot escape the resultant influx of those fleeing from the already volatile situation in that country; Botswana being the immediate case in point.

That much became clearer this week when an estimated 800 Zimbabweans were reported to have crossed into Botswana through different un-gazetted points along the border with Zimbabwe. Speaking in an interview with The Sunday Standard, Titus Makosha, Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Botswana Red Cross Society, confirmed that at least twenty of these people have been registered by their officers at Dukwi refugee camp.

Investigations conducted by Sunday Standard reveal that officials of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Office of the President and Red Cross Office were on Wednesday this week locked in high level discussions at Dukwi and Gaborone.

BRCS officials acknowledged the meeting but would not say what the content of the meeting was. However, impeccable sources have suggested that the authorities are having a difficult time defining the status to be accorded those accepted at the camp.

The problem of vocabulary seems to emanate from the sensitivity and priority given to diplomatic relations and protocol considerations. This seems even more so considering the current official collective stand taken by SADC recently as represented by the South African president Thabo Mbeki that “there is no crisis in Zimbabwe.”

When asked whether these people are treated as refugees, Makosha said, “As far as we are concerned we are bound by the rules governing the International Federation of Red Cross Societies among them the consideration that it is universally known that wherever there are elections, the prospects of conflict cannot be played down.”

The BRCS is expected to provide psychosocial support and other humanitarian providence to those traumatized by conflict, including those displaced by violence.

Against this background, the BRCS in co-operation with the International Federation of the Red Cross Societies has done all it requires in terms of mobilizing resources and volunteers to be adequate to all the probabilities.

Makosha was, however, quick to mark his lines.

“This should not in any way be construed to be a judgment or verdict in relation to those involved in the elections,” he said, “because we are a non-partisan organization.”

The Sunday Standard has authoritatively established that no one in government wants to talk about the situation, not even its implications on the health and security of the country.

When asked about the difference in the flow of illegal immigrants into the country, the Francistown Police Station Commander, Superintendent Mokuedi Mphathi, said, “On our part, there is nothing abnormal except that there continues to be people crossing through unofficial points of entry but in no extra-ordinary numbers, nor have we as yet received any people claiming to be fleeing from the political state in Zimbabwe.”

According to information passed to Sunday Standard by impeccable sources, the government has established a task force with a view to determining what would be the health impact of the possible influx into the country, under the coordination of the Director of Public Health, Clifford Matsoga, of the Ministry of Health. When asked for comment, Matsoga had this to say, “The matter is highly sensitive, therefore, I am not in a position to respond, except you speak to the Permanent Secretary to the President .”

The officials at the Centre for Illegal Immigrants in Francistown declined to comment, neither would they deny that they are holding hundreds at that jail.
They would not even hint if there is any other temporary shelter elsewhere in that regard.

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Sunday Standard September 20 – 26

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 20 - 26, 2020.