Last Updated: Thursday, 18 January 2018, 09:05 GMT

U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2004 - Botswana

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 25 May 2004
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2004 - Botswana , 25 May 2004, available at: [accessed 18 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 2003, including more than 1,000 from Namibia, nearly 1,000 from Angola, and some 500 from Somalia.

Refugees from Namibia

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

Unlike in 2002, when as many as 1,000 Namibian refugees returned home, only 3 Namibians repatriated in 2003. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) provided them with transportation for the 300-mile (500 km) trip from Dukwi camp to the Caprivi Strip, a cash allowance, food, and basic supplies upon arrival in Namibia.

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

Despite the government of Botswana's signing of a Tripartite Agreement in 2002 with the government of Namibia and UNHCR to, in part, guarantee the safe return of Namibian refugees, the vast majority of the remaining Caprivians in Botswana refused to repatriate in 2003. Botswana illegally forced eight Namibians back to Caprivi in 2003. Human rights groups alleged that Namibian security officials tortured the refugees after accusing them of high treason.

Refugee Assistance

Angolan, Namibian, Somali, and other refugees lived in Dukwi camp in northeastern Botswana. During 2003, UNHCR provide the camp-based refugees with food, water, shelter, schools, and health care. Some refugees received income generation training, such as tailoring, poultry raising, baking, and brick making. UNHCR erected 44 new shelters and Habitat for Humanity constructed 76 houses in the camp, but housing was still insufficient for its more than 3,000 residents.

While more refugees volunteered to undergo HIV/AIDS testing and participate in peer education in 2003, the number of AIDS related deaths and AIDS orphans increased in Dukwi during the year, according to UNHCR.

As in previous years, the Botswanan government continued to restrict refugee freedom of movement in Dukwi camp in 2003, citing the 1967 Refugee Control Act, which requires refugees and asylum seekers to apply for written permission to leave the camp to work or study.

Namibian authorities routinely detained asylum seekers to deter new arrivals. UNHCR reported no repatriations by Angolan refugees in 2003. Talks took place, however, between the governments of Botswana and Angola regarding the voluntary repatriation of Angolan refugees who remained in Botswana.

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