Disappearing Asylum Seekers A Concern For Government

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The minister of Justice Machana Shamukuni has expressed concern over asylum seekers who disappear once granted asylum in Botswana.

Speaking during the World Refugee Day commemoration in Dukwi today, Shamukuni said such individuals are highly suspected to be involved in cases of human trafficking.  He further highlighted that due to the frequent disappearance of asylum seekers security experts have been asked to step up security in order to protect refugees.

“I am worried of an unfolding situation of people who arrive in Botswana seeking asylum, and once welcomed they disappear. We highly suspect these are the people involved in human trafficking and smuggling of people”, highlighted the Minister.

Shamukuni urged refugees at Dukwi camp to apply for local integration, as a long-term solution to their stay.  He said local integration offers them opportunities to further their education, settle anywhere in the country, and to acquire land once granted citizenship.

“I urge refugees to consider local integration as an option. I regret to say there are low numbers of applications for local integration,” said Minister Shamukuni.

He, however, highlighted that 289 refugees are undergoing resettlement procedures to other host countries. 

“We are hopeful these 289 individuals by next month would have found a durable solution to their plight.” Furthermore, the minister said in the next parliament session he will be tabling a Bill to amend the Refugees Act, in order to realign it with international best practices.

Meanwhile, Dukwi refugee camp welfare committee chairperson, Lukusa Joseph Bakampeta expressed gratitude for the government’s move to relax movement restrictions for refugees. He said the easing of restrictions enables refugees to seek menial jobs to augment their allowances and improve their livelihoods. 

Bakampeta also thanked the Botswana government and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) for granting families enlisted for voluntary repatriation, a dignified return to their countries of origin and resettlement to other host countries. He however urged the government to speed up the process of local integration as some individuals have been in Botswana for close to 20 years.

This year’s World Refugee Day was observed under the theme” Solidarity with Refugees for a World where Refugees are Welcomed.” Dukwi refugee camp is the only camp in Botswana and currently accommodates over 800 people and was established in 1979.

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