Monday, 19 June 2017

ZIM ASYLUM SEEKERS FIND THE GOING TOUGH IN BOTSWANA

The UN Refugee Agency (UNRA) regional representative, Veronica Irima Modey-Ebi has expressed concern over Botswana's tightening policy towards asylum seekers and refugees.

The Agency has noted Botswana’s increasing rejection and detention of asylum seekers as well as stringent encampment protocols for those allowed in. Botswana houses well over 2,000 refugees at the Dukwi Refugee Camp, with other asylum seekers at the Francistown Centre for Illegal Immigrants.

Speaking at an event to mark Botswana’s efforts to help refugees in the last 50 years, Modey-Ebi said lately, the government was turning its back on those seeking protection. “We have seen the stringent policy of the government toward the institution of asylum with questions being raised why persons transit other countries to end up in Botswana,” she said.

“We continue to see high rejection rates of asylum seekers and the detention of asylum seekers, coupled with a strict encampment policy.  “From a UNHCR point of view, we urge the government of Botswana as a stable country on the continent, to adopt a humane approach toward the institution of asylum with apt structures put in place to determine persons in genuine need of refugee.”

She added: “A sound adjudication process ought to be conducted prior to reaching decisions because there are different factors such as non-availability of eligibility determination mechanism in some of the countries transited, serious security considerations, particularly for women and children and the fundamental aspects of family unity amongst others”.

Modey-Ebi said Botswana Refugee (Recognition and Control) Act was outdated and riddled with shortcomings in terms of refugee protection. “There is a need for a domestic legislation which is in accord with the tenets of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, as a starting point in that regard,” she said.

The UNRA representative also called on local government and relevant distinguished authorities in the country to consider lifting reservations that the country made to the 1951 Convention Relating to Refugees. The limitations include those relating to refugees and wage earning employment, freedom of movement and naturalisation.

Modey-Ebi pointed out that Botswana had in the past hosted refugees from Angola, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe and today she still hosts refugees from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Namibia, Rwanda, Somalia, Zimbabwe and other countries. mmegi

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