The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Chief of Mission in Botswana, Mr. Arvind Gupta paid a courtesy call to the SADC Executive Secretary, Her Excellency, Dr. Stergomena Lawrence Tax on the 26th of June 2018 at the SADC Secretariat in Gaborone, Botswana. The two parties met to discuss issues regarding the movement of refugees seeking asylum, forced and voluntary migration, as well as issues for continued collaboration between the two organisations in the management of refugees in the region.
Mr. Gupta thanked the SADC Executive Secretary for receiving him amid her busy schedules. He said that UNHCR stands ready to continue working with the SADC Secretariat, and its Member States on issues related to refuges and prudent management of their situation, in order to improve the humanitarian needs of refugeesseeking asylum. He pointed out that through the tripartite arrangement between UNHCR, Botswana and Namibian Governments, repatriation of refugees from Namibia’s Caprivi Region, residing at Dukwi Refugee Camp in Botswana, who sought political asylum in Botswana since 1998 was on course, and are expected to return home in the next 2 months, while the repatriation of Zimbabwean refuges will follow soon.
H.E. Dr. Tax, mentioned that the SADC region was a home to large numbers of refugees and recognises the need to balance between the potential security, and socio-economic risks, associated with hosting refugees, with the benefit of regional integration that encourages the movement of people for economic development. She further said that the region remains amenable to cooperation with other International bodies to leverage solutions and resources, as well as address emerging refugee challenges, and accommodate the ideals of the Comprehensive Refugee Response framework, and the provisions of the Global Compact on Refugees.
The SADC region is currently in the process of finalising the Draft SADC Common Regional Policy Framework on Management of Asylum Seekers and Refugees in line with the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF), which forms part of the UN New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants.
The Parties agreed to continue monitoring and addressing developing refugee challenges, and review the long-standing cooperation agreement signed in July 1996, further discuss its implementation through among others, drawing an action plan to operationalise the cooperation Agreement.