Secessionists maintain hardline stance – UNHCR

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Katima Mulilo

A small group of secessionists holed up at Dukwe refugee camp have informed the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) that they will not participate in any repatriation “until their political objective is achieved”.

This revelation came to light when New Era interviewed UNHCR spokesperson for Southern Africa, Tina Ghelli, who stated: “A small number of refugees in Dukwe are advocating for the secession of the Zambezi Region from Namibia and they claim that they will not repatriate until their political objective is achieved.” Ghelli’s assertion only serves to confirm reports circulating that some individuals at Dukwe still harbour the taboo, secessionist ideology.

In July a group of thirteen people were sent back to Botswana after participating in a hastily aborted come and see, go and tell mission.

That mission was cancelled and the group sent back to Botswana after they hijacked that mission and in bad faith promoted secessionism, regionalism and tribalism among other traits of the banned United Democratic Party (UDP).

UDP led by crest-fallen exiled politician Mishake Muyongo was outlawed for pushing a treasonous agenda to secede the Zambezi from the rest of Namibia. Zambezi Regional Governor Lawrence Sampofu reiterated in an interview last Friday that refugees from Dukwe can come back to Namibia because the socio-political, socio-economic conditions are conducive for their safe return.

“The socio-economic situation is very much conducive to every person, to every Namibian, to participate in all socio-economic and political events. The only thing we will not allow is no one will be allowed to come and mobilize for the United Democratic Party (UDP), which is banned in Namibia,” he said.

Sampofu was making reference to the Namibian Constitution that does not allow any form of discrimination as propagated by the overzealous UDP followers whose ideology promotes tribalism, regionalism and even worse, secessionism. Meanwhile, the UNHCR spokesperson said the UN refugee agency is promoting the voluntary return of refugees from Dukwe refugee camp in Botswana.

“This means that refugees who want to return can register with UNHCR and we will facilitate their travel back home to Namibia. UNHCR is conducting information campaigns so that the refugees can make an informed decision about voluntary repatriation. It should be noted that UNHCR together with the Government of Botswana and the Government of Namibia have held a series of tripartite meetings to negotiate the best deal for refugees and in order to facilitate their return,” Ghelli told New Era in an exclusive interview.

Though UNHCR does not have programmes for self-reliance for Dukwe returnees it gives each repatriated family a cash grant and other basic material goods to help them restart their lives.

Ghelli explained that when Botswana invokes the cessation clause for Namibians at Dukwe in December this year it would not entail the closure of the camp.
But this will mean “the Namibians would have to be dealt with according to Botswana immigration policies.” Dukwe

refugee centre, situated some 180 kilometres from Francistown near Dukwe village, is also home to refugees from Somalia, DRC, Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Burundi. Dukwe refugees include 681 children enrolled in primary and secondary school.

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