Ministry of Defence Justice and Security(MDJS)
Press Release
08/10/15

PRESS RELEASE

 

66TH SESSION OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE

OF THE HIGH COMMISSIONER’S PROGRAMME.

 

 

1.       The Minister of Defence, Justice and Security Hon. Shaw Kgathi is attending the 66th Session of the Executive Committee of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Programme held in Geneva, Switzerland from 5th to 10th October 2015. The Session is attended by 96 member states and 36 observer states.

 

2.       The Minister is accompanied by Botswana’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador. Mothusi B. Palai, Secretary for Defence, Justice and Security Mr. Augustine N. Makgonatsotlhe and other senior government officials.

 

3.       The purpose of the meeting is to reflect on the countries’ past experiences and on how they can continue to offer protection to persons fleeing from violence and unrest in many countries.

 

4.       The Hon. Minister gave a statement during the general debate of the High Level Segment in which he highlighted Botswana’s commitment to working with the UNHCR in the protection and identification of durable solutions for refugees.

 

5.       He emphasized that Botswana has over the years received refugees from other African countries, provided them with security, accommodation, health, education and other services. Some of these refugees have since returned to their countries of origin and are meaningfully contributing to the development of their nations.

 

6.       The Minister informed the meeting of the peacefulness, to a larger extent, of the SADC region owing in part to the region-wide cooperation arrangements in various fields including defence and security and that the region can be proud of its achievements.

 

7.       The Minister also informed the meeting that the government of Botswana, has announced its decision to invoke cessation with respect to refugees originating from the Zambezi region of Namibia and that the cessation will take effect on 31st December 2015.  He reiterated the government’s commitment to implement cessation in line with international standards.

 

8.       The Minister further informed the meeting about the disturbing new phenomenon of an emerging dimension of migration that manifests itself in the form of a wave of secondary movement of refugees and asylum seekers. These secondary movements are disturbing as they are likely to dilute the asylum landscape within the region and if not contained would have the potential to pollute migration in the region at a time when the region is peaceful and stable.

 

9.       He ended his statement by commending the UNHCR for its continued support and commitment to working with the government of Botswana in protecting refugees and asylum seekers, and thanked the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Mr. Antonio Guterres for the sterling work he has done in executing his mandate.

 

10.     In response to Minister Kgathi’s statement, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees publicly endorsed Botswana’s decision to effect the cessation of refugee status of all Namibian refugees in Botswana and acknowledged the excellent working relations between the Governments of Botswana and Namibia and UNHCR.  

 

10.     Furthermore, the Minister held bilateral meetings with the Regional Director of the Bureau for Africa Mr. Valentin Tapsoba to discuss matters of mutual concern relating to issues of refugee protection. He also met the Minister of Home Affairs and Immigration of Namibia – Hon. Ms. Phendukeni Iivula-Ithana, to review progress on the cessation of refugee status in respect of Namibian refugees.

 

11.     The Minister is expected to return to Botswana on Thursday 8th October 2015.

 

 

 

Done in Geneva, Switzerland on 6th October 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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