Blessings Chidakwa Herald Correspondent
One-hundred-and-thirty-two Zimbabweans, who went to Botswana seeking refugee status, have been voluntarily repatriated from Dukwi Refugee Camp and upon arrival at Plumtree each returnee was given national identification documents, a settling allowance and food rations by the Government and the United Nations.
The documents given to the returnees included birth certificates and national identification cards for those without, a settling allowance of US$300 cash to every returnee above 12 years of age, $1 000 each as food packages and three months’ medical supplies for those under treatment.
The returnees were repatriated voluntarily between December 9 to 14, 2019 through a tripartite partnership exercise involving the governments of Zimbabwe and Botswana and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Another group of refugees is expected in January 2020.
In a statement yesterday, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade acting spokesperson Mr Joel Muzuwa said the exercise was an outcome of the assessment of the political and economic situation in Zimbabwe by the UNHCR.
He said the conclusion of the assessment was that the Zimbabwean nationals at Dukwe Refugee Camp no longer needed extended international protection in view of the prevailing political stability in the country.
“The Government of Zimbabwe would like to express its appreciation to the government of the Republic of Botswana and UNHCR for facilitating the return of the Zimbabwean nationals. The repatriation process proceeded smoothly without any challenges.
“Though 135 returnees had registered for voluntary repatriation, a woman who had just given birth could not receive the required medical clearance to join the group. The woman and her three children will join the groups that will be repatriated in January 2020.
“On arrival at the Plumtree Reception Centre, the UNHCR extended to the retunes settling allowance of US$300 cash to every returnee above 12 years of age and US$100 to all returnees below 12 years of age, three months of food rations to families of all returnees, three months’ medical supplies to those under treatment and medical certificates to all those who were on medical programmes,” he said.
Mr Muzuwa said, in addition, “Government issued Zimbabwean birth certificates and national identity documents to the retunes upon successful verification. About 60 percent of the returnees were children who were born in Dukwe camp. The returnees also received settling allowance $1 000 each as food packages from the Department of Social Welfare including transport to their homes.”
He said Government was urging its citizens who are still in Dukwe Refugee Camp to register for voluntary repatriation and return home in dignity through registering for voluntary repatriation before the deadline of December 31 2019.
“As of December 31 2019 Zimbabwe’s nationals who do not register will become illegal immigrants and they will be deported to Zimbabwe under the immigration laws of the government of the Republic of Botswana,” said Mr Muzuwa.