Close to 300 Zimbabwean refugees in Botswana are set to be deported back to Zimbabwe if they do not leave the neighboring country voluntarily because a UN refugee agency in Bostwana says their lives are no longer at risk, VOA reports.
Most of them according to the publication fled Zimbabwe during the chaotic and violent 2008 presidential election and they fear or feared persecution if they return hence their decision to stay in Botswana till now.
Watson Chibi one of the refugees spoke to the publication and said most of them do not want to return home:
All refugees’ hopes are down. We are waiting for anything to happen. UNHCR has rejected us. The only option we have is going back home to Zimbabwe.
We are so skeptical, are we really going to get even a passport or a travel document? Things are bad. They are saying it is time up, we should go. We should go because we do not deserve international protection as things are (now) OK in Zimbabwe.
We are trying to go to court. But will we have money to pay a lawyer to represent us? No, we don’t have money. Why? Because since 2010 refugees were not allowed to work.
Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Botswana, Henry Mukonoweshuro assured the refugees that it was now safe to come back home and said:
What I can assure you is that his excellency (Zimbabwe President Emmerson) Mnangagwa welcomes you back to Zimbabwe. It is the government’s desire to have Zimbabweans in Zimbabwe.
The UNHCR protection officer at the Dukwi Refugee Camp, Olivia Mugambi also told the refugees that they have done research in Zimbabwe and it is safe to return home now.
The refugees were told to register for voluntary repatriation by 28 February 2021.