GABORONE, Sept. 23 (Xinhua) -- Botswana and Namibia have agreed that they will have completed the repatriation of hundreds of Namibian refugees by Sept. 30, 2019, an official said Monday.
Thobo Letlhage, director of refugee management and welfare told Xinhua in a telephone interview that the repatriation exercise that started as of Sept. 19, 2019 from the Dukwi Refugee Camp, which is situated some 530 km northwest of Botswana's capital, Gaborone, is on schedule.
"The repatriation exercise which we started last Thursday is on schedule. There is no doubt that we will complete the repatriation by Sept. 30, 2019," said Letlhage, adding that officials from the Namibian side have been cooperating well.
According to Letlhage, the two southern African countries have agreed that the process "would be completed preferably by Sept. 30, 2019 from the commencement of repatriation."
A long standing agreement was facilitated by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees for close to 2, 400 who had fled the Caprivi Strip in the late 1990s during the secessionist uprising to stay as refugees in Botswana.
However, the circumstances that led to the Namibians refugees to fled to Botswana are no longer in existence hence the repatriation exercise triggered by a tripartite agreement signed between Botswana and Namibia alongside UNHCR in 2012, said Letlhage.
Media reports from Namibia have indicated that the Namibian government has shown its willingness to welcome the remaining refugees, assuring them that they will be safe back home.
Alufea Sampofu, the governor for Namibia's now Zambezi Region, formerly the Caprivi Strip who a couple of months visited the refugees at Dukwi Refugee Camp reassured the refugees that they were Namibian citizens and were therefore free to come back home.