The Namibian and Botswana governments believed the climate was “right” for Namibian refugees currently in Botswana to return home, ‘The Namibian’ newspaper reported on Wednesday.
The paper quoted a joint communique issued by Namibian Home Affairs Minister Jerry Ekandjo and his Botswana counterpart, Bahiti Temane, as saying: “Namibia and Botswana were convinced that the political environment in Namibia, specifically in the Caprivi region, was conducive to the return of the Namibian nationals.”
It also quoted the statement as saying: “The message conveyed by the two ministers and the UNHCR to the Namibian nationals was that those opting for voluntary repatriation would be accorded a safe and dignified return to their country of origin.”
A UNHCR official told IRIN on Wednesday that although the concept of voluntary repatriation was the corner stone of UNHCR policy, people should want to return to their countries of origin of their own volition. There were currently an estimated 2,400 Namibians seeking asylum in Botswana.
He said: “As far as we are concerned that is not the case with them. We do not really get that feeling.”