DITSHWANELO – The Botswana Centre for Human Rights, joins the world in commemorating World Refugee Day. The theme for World Refugee Day this year is#WithRefugees.
World Refugee Day on the 20 June was recognised by the United Nations General Assembly through Resolution 55/76, on 4 December 2000.It is dedicated to raising awareness about the situation of refugees throughout the world.Prior to 2000, several African countries had been formally commemorating African Refugee Day on the same date.
The United Nations noted that the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), now the African Union (AU), had agreed to have International Refugee Day coincide with African Refugee Day on 20 June.
DITSHWANELO, has been working on the rights of refugees in Botswana since it started operating in 1993. The work includesproduction of material on the rights of refugees and asylum seekers, sensitisation screenings and discussions about the refugee and asylum seekers’ experiencearound the world at our Annual DITSHWANELO Human Rights Film Festival, cooperation with stakeholders including the Government, civil society organisations in Botswana and the SADC region working with and forrefugees and asylum seekers, as well as the on-going support for Namibian refugees from the former Caprivi area, now officially called the Zambezi region.
We are aware that migration has increasingly been viewed as a global challenge. However, African populations have been highly migratory within the African continent, particularly from the colonial period. Migration patterns have latterly been affected by the consequences of globalisation, reflected differently in the global north and the global south. Changing migration patterns now include migration out of Africa. This calls for a reflection and redefinition of the real drivers which lead to people being described as refugees and asylum seekers and need to address them.
DITSHWANELO wishes to reiterate that Botswana, as a member of the international community, has an obligation to promote and protect the rights of refugees and asylum seekers who are within its borders. We alsosupport the recognition, protection and non-discrimination of refugees and asylum-seekers in Botswana.
DITSHWANELO continues to encourage the government, civil society, the private sector and our Botswana society to take a shared responsibility to ensure that refugees and asylum seekershave protection, shelter and a chance to lead productive lives. We also urge the Government of Botswana to ensure that our refugee legislation is in conformity with regional and international standards. An important basis for ensuring this is by reflecting on and implementing our country’s founding principles and values of Unity and Botho.These continue to be testimony to Botswana’s commitment to supporting humanity, for the enjoyment of their human rights and lives rooted in dignity.
19 June 2018