The United States of America has appealed to Botswana to give refuge to Afghanistan citizens who were displaced when Taliban forces recently took control of the country.
With the Taliban takeover of Kabul, there is growing concern for the safety of at-risk Afghans. Very few Afghans, however, are expected to find sanctuary in Europe because of its hard-line policies and anti-refugee sentiments across much of the continent. Austria and Switzerland have already refused to take in large numbers of Afghans. Turkey, already under strain from the number of refugees it hosts, said it does not want to become “Europe’s refugee warehouse.” A few other western countries have committed to taking in small numbers of refugees, including Canada (20,000) and the U.K. (20,000 over 5 years). America is now looking to countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America to help with the Afghanistan refugee crisis. So far Uganda, which already hosts 1.5 million refugees, mainly from South Sudan, is the only African country that has agreed to take in 2,000 Afghans temporarily.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of International Affairs and Cooperation, Dr Gladys Mokhawa, confirmed to the Sunday Standard that the US government has reached out to Botswana to accommodate an unspecified number of Afghan nationals.
“I can confirm that the US Government has approached Botswana Government on the matter,” she said.
Mokhawa said discussions were ongoing, with Botswana currently satisfying its internal processes.
“We recently issued a statement through the Human Rights Council, where the issue is being discussed. So at this point, we cannot give an answer as to what will happen next because negotiations are ongoing,” said Mokhawa.
She explained that Botswana’s decision will be guided by its representatives at the multi-lateral organisation. Botswana does not have diplomatic relations with Afghanistan. Mokhawa said currently, the resources available meet the requirements of the refugee population in the country. She further said the space at Dukwi camp is evaluated to ascertain that the available resources can meet the protection needs and welfare requirements of the persons granted asylum.
“Botswana is a State Party to the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees. In this regard, any asylum seekers coming into the country are considered through the normal processes.”
“Botswana welcomes ongoing efforts by other international stakeholders to find a peaceful and durable solution to the crisis, including efforts to assist at-risk Afghans,” added Mokhawa.
She also said the ministry was aware of two Botswana nationals who were based in Afghanistan, explaining that one works with the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan while the other is with the United States Embassy. She said the duo was recently evacuated from Afghanistan to Botswana.
She told Sunday Standard;
“As a country, we are committed to the promotion and protection of human rights for all. In this regard, Botswana recently participated at the 31st Special Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council on the serious human rights concerns and situation in Afghanistan, which took place in Geneva, Switzerland. The Session addressed the evolving human rights situation in Afghanistan.”