Dukwi refugees arrested, detained

Nicholas Mokwena - BG reporter
Monday, 20 June 2016
Dukwi refugees arrested, detained

Dukwi Refugee Camp leadership is said to have arrested and detained some of the Congolese leadership and threatened them with deportation after they requested that their fellow countrymen and women be given naturalisation.

This is said to have happened on the 2nd of this month during a meeting held at Dukwi Refugee Camp. A member of the delegation, which attended the meeting, told Botswana Guardian that they requested that they be given local integration but this did not sit well with the camp leadership and the refugees were told they should forget about such a request. Local integration is one of the three options that refugees are given. The other two are resettlement in a third country and repatriation back to their countries. Dukwi is said to have around 100 Congolese. A delegation of six Congolese is said to have proposed the meeting on workable solution regarding Congolese who have been in the camp for more than 16 years. UNHCR Regional representative, UNHCR- Botswana Chief of Mission, Dukwi Settlement Deputy Commandant and UNHCR Head of Field attended the meeting according to the source.

“The delegation raised various issues at the meeting, one of them being that they want local integration or naturalisation for some of the Congolese especially the ten families who have been in the country for over 16 years. This infuriated Dukwi Settlement, Deputy Commandant Fortunate Majingo.

He told the delegation that this would not happen and the only option they could be assisted with could be resettlement or be sent back home. Following this we were briefly detained and threatened that we would be deported back to our country. They told us at the meeting that this is Botswana’s position and they are protecting their small labour market,” said one of the members who attended the meeting. The Congolese community is said to have tried on several occasions in the past six months to engage the camp management with no luck.

The source said they were released later that day following the intervention of the UNHCR Head of Field Office, Benoit Hamenyimana and Dukwi Police.Botswana Guardian is in possession of a letter dated the 6th of June 2016 where the delegation expressed their grievances and displeasure at the way they were treated during the meeting. The letter has been addressed to Botswana Centre for Human Rights (Ditshwanelo) and copied to U.S Embassy, British High Commission, European Union, UNHCR Pretoria, UNHCR Geneva and Botswana Council of Churches among others.

In the letter the Congolese Community Leaders claim that they were unreasonably detained. They state that theirs was a genuine request but they were ill treated. They request Ditshwanelo’s intervention in the matter. Contacted Congolese Community Leaders Chairperson, Samuel Byamungu Nondo confirmed the meeting and that they have since written a letter to Ditshwanelo. He could not be drawn into discussing the matter further saying he is constrained to discuss with the media. Dukwi Settlement Deputy Commandant Fortunate Majingo claimed ignorance about events that unfolded at the meeting. He said he is also not aware of the letter of complaint written to Ditshwanelo. Ditshwanelo Public Relations Officer, Tlatsetso Badime was not available for comment as she was said to be in a meeting.

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