Press Statement, 12 October 2015
FORCED REPATRIATION OF CAPRIVI REFUGEES WOULD BE REGRETTABLE
The continued unnecessary pressure from the Tripartite Commission comprising of UNHCR, Botswana and Namibia on Caprivian refugees to come back home is a risky move, which in our view is a violation of refugees rights. Namibia is not yet ready to accept or peacefully work with UDP leaders and members, hence, the come back of such leaders and members would be chaotic.
The Caprivi Concerned Group continues to call for a lasting and peaceful political solution to the dispute which led those refugees to flee their motherland to Botswana. In all our efforts, Namibia remains reluctant and negative. Ignoring the soft voices or peaceful expressions in any political conflict yield unintended consequences. Strangely, UNHCR in Geneva reportedly endorsed the cessation clause on Caprivian refugees in Botswana.
In September 1982 then President of Botswana, Quett Khetumile Masire, ignored a humble request from CANU to intervene or advice SWAPO on the issue of Caprivi. Sixteen years later, thousands of Caprivians flew to Botswana, as a result of the same issue! Botswana should not repeat this mistake. It is a peaceful country, and should not only be refuge in southern Africa but also lead in conflict resolution in the region.
We do not reject voluntary repatriation in its true meaning and faithful implementation as it has been done since 1999. The true meaning of the concept and approach of voluntary repatriation is compromised if it is carried out with threats which do not solve the primary cause which led such refugees to flee. If refugees are given a deadline and are threatened be deported, how can that be referred to as a voluntary process?
It is commendable that these refugees still have time to listen and even make proposals to the commission, despite that their opinion and interests are not considered, after more than three successive meetings and submissions. It is unfortunate and unacceptable for the commission to continue treating refugees like objects which have no soul, no mind and no feelings.
We know that Government of Namibia lost an extradition case against some Caprivian refugees in 2010 in Botswana High Court, and the reasons which were advanced against extradition firmly stand against forced repatriation.
In conclusion, we plead with the tripartite commission to engage the refugees without any political or social prejudice. Namibia is also advised to level the political playing field to allow UDP leaders and members to exercise their political rights.
Caprivi Concerned Group