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Failed Congolese asylum seekers face deportation

Publishing Date : 21 April, 2016


Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Defense Justice and Security, Augustine Makgonatsotlhe

At least 600 asylum seekers from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), including girl children as young as three years, have been denied refugee status and advised to return home, the WeekendPost can exclusively reveal.

The Congolese were notified of the government decision mid last month. And information reaching this publication is that the government is locked in negotiations with the Joseph Kabila led administration on how best to repatriate the asylum seekers.

When the two governments have agreed on the modalities of repatriating the asylum seekers, the hundreds will be taken back to their home country despite reports of human rights abuses and the recurrence of war situations.

Augustine Makgonatsotlhe, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Defense Justice and Security confirmed the development when contacted for a comment. He said the government conducted interviews one by one in order to understand the problems pushing them into seeking asylum.

Makgonatsotlhe, who is the chairperson of the Refugee Advisory Committee, added that all the procedures have been following to ascertain the problems being faced by the Congolese.

“However, the reasons advanced were not all that convincing,” said Makgonatsotlhe in a telephone interview. Makgonatsotlhe could not be drawn into discussing why the government the Congolese’s asylum claims save to say their reasons were not convincing.

For the past three months or so, the country experienced an influx of Congolese asylum seekers.

According to informed sources, some of the Congolese asylum seekers were being trafficked into the country from the DRC straight fleeing war situations. North and South Kivu areas are some of the most affected.

But it has since emerged some of the Congolese asylum seekers are fleeing into country from the neighboring countries like South Africa and Zimbabwe. Some of the asylum seekers have refugees in those countries, sources said.

It is against this backdrop that the government has decided to reject the claims by the Congolese asylum seekers. WeekendPost has been reliably informed that tat government of the belief that some Congolese asylum seekers are economic opportunists.

A senior government official who talked to this publication on condition of total anonymity said the refugee eligibility of the Congolese has always been a suspect. He said the refugee advisory committee failed to establish that the asylum seekers had well-founded fears of persecution.

The official said the government is of the feeling that asylum seekers are now preferring Botswana compared to any other country within the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region if not the rest of Africa. 



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