The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the UN Refugee Agency are grappling with severe budgetary constraints, leading to a reduction in food rations for refugees in Dukwi.
This year’s rations have been halved, according to UNHCR Officer-in-Charge, Madoda Leslie Nasha.
This situation is said to be causing distress among refugees who have fled conflict or persecution from their respective countries and are already facing challenging living conditions.
Given Botswana’s restrictions on refugee employment, they have limited options for self-sufficiency and rely on these rations. “Local integration and access to employment outside of the camp would also reduce refugees’ reliance on aid,” Nasha said.
This admission by UNHCR contrasts with the government’s official stance on the Dukwi Refugee camp’s situation.
The Ministry of Justice, in response to an article published on October 20th (“Hunger Strikes”), distanced itself from the challenges outlined by The Voice.
The Ministry’s spokesperson, Oteng Mokowe, emphasized that The Voice’s assertion of a potential humanitarian disaster at the camp is false and misleading.
However, Nasha clarifies that UNHCR is indeed concerned about the situation and is closely monitoring the health and welfare of the refugees to address cases of malnutrition and disease.
Globally, UNHCR has faced challenging decisions to reduce staffing and operational budgets due to the increasing number of humanitarian emergencies.
UNHCR is urging the international community and private donors to step in and bridge the funding gaps.
“In the meantime, we’re left with a shortfall which means we cannot meet all the pressing needs,” he said, further adding that they are working to secure additional funding, prioritize food distribution, and explore livelihood projects to promote refugees’ self-reliance and reduce long-term dependence on the government and UNHCR.
The Ministry also dismisses reports of an Egyptian asylum seeker going on a hunger strike to protest living conditions within the camp.
It’s worth noting that in 2015, two Ugandan refugees, Musa Isabirye and Timothy Yamin, were deported after years of protesting the conditions in the Dukwi camp.
Despite being granted asylum in 2011, they raised concerns about the camp’s state and demanded resettlement.
They were deported back to Uganda, facing potential detention and persecution, despite a High Court ruling against the state’s decision.
The duo who were allegedly denied access to their lawyer, Martin Dingake, were deported despite a High Court ruling against the state’s decision.