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Botswana NGO slams forced repatriation of Zimbabwe refugees

Rights group Botswana Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) on Friday expressed concern over reports that President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s government plans to forcibly repatriate Zimbabwean refugees next week.BCHR director Alice Mogwe said the Botswana government has allegedly given an ultimatum to the Zimbabweans who fled persecution in their country to settle in Botswana that they should return to Zimbabwe or be forcibly removed on 19 February.

She said her organisation is reliably informed that the Gaborone authorities have turned down all applications for asylum that were lodged by the refugees despite inviting those who wish to be exempt from repatriation to put their concerns and justifications in writing.

“Instead, the official position is reportedly that those who have not yet registered to return to Zimbabwe willingly will be effectively forcibly repatriated on Wednesday 19 February 2020,” Mogwe said.

She accused the Botswana government of having pursued a similar tactic in 2019 when it forcibly repatriated former refugees from Namibia’s Zambezi (formerly Caprivi).

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