Dukwi refugees want work not charity
About 2 600 refugees at Dukwi Refugee Camp have expressed their desire to earn a living through work instead of being reduced to mere charity cases.
Speaking at the World Refugee Day commemoration at Dukwi Refugee Camp, about 180km northwest of Francistown last Friday, Chairperson for Refugees Welfare Committee, Bhekimpilo Weza said: “When we arrived in Botswana, we were informed of the encampment policy and other laws managing refugees in the country. We, however, plead with the government to relax the encampment policy. Being always enclosed in the parameters of the refugee camp is making our minds idle and lazy.”
Dukwi refugee camp is host to refugees from 14 African countries from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, the Great Lakes and the Horn of Africa.
Botswana is strict on encampment policy on refugees – meaning refugees are not allowed to work and perform any kind of an income generating project to earn a living and lessen the burden on humanitarian organizations.
But allowing refugees to be gainfully employed Weza argued, would make sure asylum seekers positively contribute to the economy of the country that welcomed and protected them when they came running away from different push factors exerted on them in their respective countries.
Weza said it is painful to see young and energetic refugees spending their time unproductively while relying on handouts.
“This is not in any way undermining what the (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) UNHCR and the government of Botswana are doing to ensure that we survive under these extra-ordinary times,” he said.
In response, Director in the Ministry of Defense, Justice and Security Ross Sanoto said the government is conscious of the fact that refugees needs in Botswana are far from being met.
“This is why we sensitize the international community about the refugee needs and appeal for their support on occasions such as the World Refugee Day commemoration,” Sanoto who avoided answering the work issue explained.