Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 January 2018, 09:04 GMT

U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2003 - Botswana

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 1 June 2003
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2003 - Botswana , 1 June 2003, available at: [accessed 23 January 2018]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Botswana hosted about 4,000 refugees and asylum seekers at the end of 2002, including 2,000 from Angola, some 1,000 from Namibia, and up to 1,000 from various other countries. About 1,000 refugees returned home to Namibia from Botswana during the year.

Refugees from Namibia

Several thousand Namibian refugees fled to Botswana during 1998–2000 because of an armed insurrection in the Caprivi Strip region of northern Namibia.

Many refugees were ethnic Barakwena, also known as Bushmen, who traditionally lived a hunter-gatherer lifestyle in Namibia and struggled to adapt to sedentary life in Botswana's refugee camp.

Diminished violence in Namibia's Caprivi Strip and encouragement from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) persuaded about 1,000 refugees to return home in the second half of 2002.

A local human rights group helped monitor repatriation registration to ensure that returns were voluntary. Returnees traveled 300 miles (500 km) in bus and truck convoys organized by UNHCR to reach the Namibian border.

The estimated 1,000 Namibians who remained in Botswana at year's end included many ethnic Mafwe who were believed to be sympathetic to the insurgent movement in Caprivi Strip and were therefore reluctant to repatriate until Namibian authorities offer stronger guarantees of safety.

Some Barakwena youths also chose to remain as refugees in Botswana to pursue educational opportunities unavailable in their home area.

Other Refugees and Assistance

Most Namibian, Angolan, and other refugees lived in Dukwe camp, which provided food, water, shelter, schools, health care, and training programs.

Dukwe camp remained in relatively good condition despite its many years of existence, according to an independent report. Aid workers acknowledged a need to replace old latrines and construct new houses for refugees living in tents.

UNHCR brought additional aid organizations into the camp during 2002 to strengthen services.

Although health services at Dukwe were arguably better than health care available to local residents, UNHCR took steps to improve its AIDS prevention and awareness program after finding that at least one-fourth of all pregnant refugee women were HIV-positive. Many refugees exhibited little interest in the AIDS program, however.

A number of Somali and Congolese refugees in Dukwe – mostly adult males – expressed dissatisfaction with the camp's services and charged that UNHCR ignored their requests for resettlement abroad. UNHCR did not recommend the refugees for international resettlement.

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