NGO seeks to repatriate
San refugees from Botswana
(Pana, 22/11, Gaborone)
A Namibian-based NGO is currently
locked up in negotiations with Botswana for the repatriation of 200 refugees
of San (Basarwa or Bushmen) origin, press reports said on Tuesday.
According to the privately owned
Botswana Gazette newspaper, the Working Group of Indigenous Minorities in
Southern Africa (WIMSA) has asserted that a majority of the refugees at the
Dukwi camp are being harrased and are suffering from TB.
WIMSA's regional director, Axel
Thoma, reportedly told the newspaper from Windhoek: "Lots of rumours
abound and I understand a lot of people are suffering from tuberculosis.
However, I cannot comment further on this issue as I have never been to Dukwi
Refugee Camp." He added that there are two groups of Basarwa in Dukwi.
The first group consists of those
who want to be repatriated to Namibia while the second group want to remain
behind. Thoma told the Gazette that the Basarwa refugees sent a message to
WIMSA that they want to be return to Namibia.
"The problem is that those
who want to be repatriated are being harassed and intimidated. Authorities in
Botswana, we are told, tried to separate them but they seem to have failed. I
am in the dark as to who should be responsible for these kind of activities,"
The paper reported that WIMSA has
requested the help of the Botswana council of churches to facilitate a meeting
between NGOs in Shakawe Botswana and Caprivi in Namibia to speak to Basarwa
people in Dukwi.
WIMSA intends to repatriate the
Basarwa to Namibia before the end of the year. Recently, WIMSA with the help
of both the Namibian and Botswana governments, repatriated the sick Kxoe
(Basarwa) chief who came to Botswana during the Caprivi Strip disturbances two
The chief, who is still in
hospital, wanted to be buried among his people in case of death. Not too long
ago the Basarwa from various groups in southern Africa met under WIMSA in
Gaborone and voiced their concern about the plight of the kith and kin in
They claimed their people are
being harassed in Dukwi and the troubled Caprivi Strip. They also said that in
Caprivi they are in danger of mines planted by Angola's Unita rebels.
info Axel Thoma, Wimsa, PO Box
80733, Windhoek, Namibia,t100264/61/