On Sunday 15 August, almost 20 years after they were removed from power by American forces, the Taliban returned from the shadows to assume control of Afghanistan once again.
Following a war that has claimed over 200, 000 lives and displaced millions, despite the Taliban’s promise to govern fairly and openly, fear has swept through the country.
Terrified of more bloodshed and unwilling to be led by a group infamous for its hard-line Islamist views and scorn for women’s rights, thousands fled the Asian nation seeking refuge elsewhere.
Unable to cope with the influx, an overwhelmed USA has since appealed to Botswana to help by taking in some of the Afghan refugees.
The Voice’s DANIEL CHIDA sat down with various local analysts and political leaders to get their thoughts on the burning issue.
Mokaloba Mokaloba – Political Analyst
This is a tricky issue but it is our duty as a member of the international committee to do some humanitarian work and accommodate them.
The issue is not only about Botswana, whether it agrees or not, but the resources – do we have enough? Who exactly is asking this because it shouldn’t be done by a third party.
Asylum seeking should be done through an international organisation or directly by the seekers.
Moeti Mohwasa – UDC Head of Communications
We still have to acquaint ourselves with the whole issue and will comment in due course.
Pius Mokgware – former BDF Deputy Commander
Since this is a humanitarian issue we should accept them but put a cap on the number.
We should also have restrictions on the type of people we allow, such as children and women, people without criminal records and people who don’t belong to extremist organisations.
There should also be a guarantee on the type of assistance we will get from America.
The U.S should assist with intelligence in regard to terrorism, especially around these people.
Ian Khama – former President and BDF Commander
That is not easy to answer because I don’t know how many the USA were asking us to take.
Secondly, I am also not aware how long this would be for. The numbers and the duration of stay would determine our ability to host them and where they would stay.
We have a refugee camp where we keep refugees, would the Americans be okay with that or are they expecting somewhere different and if so do we have anywhere?
There are also other considerations, as to their feeding, education if they are with children, their culture and other specific requirements like diet, language and many more.
Are the Americans offering to pay us to look after them and all the requirements it would take, knowing these answers would help to give an opinion.
Solly Da Sol – Political Analyst
When it comes to national security, questions that come to mind are: would it not be a security threat to the country to host such refugees, especially looking at the fact that they come from a country that is rife with radical extremism?
Are we not going to find Botswana being used as one of the bases of mobilization by anti-Taliban refugees and their sympathizers, which might put the security of BW at risk!
How will BW granting them refugee status impact on her relations with other African countries, some of whose citizens have been denied refugee status or asylum status here?
The issue is complex and sensitive and requires a lot of sober reflection on balancing between humanitarianism, national interest and national security.
Are we not going to be a target of terrorism?
On the national interest issue, one may ask questions like what would Botswana benefit from hosting refugees from a country that we have no diplomatic relations with?
Who will pay for their upkeep whilst staying here in Botswana, especially at a time of severe budgetary constraints?
Some countries in this instance often give refugee status to people who are highly skilled and can be utilized in activities such as agricultural, scientific research, technology and others.
However, in the case of BW, where refugees are usually kept inside Dukwi camp without being involved in activities that can boost the national economy, one would wonder how hosting Afghans would be viewed as necessary except for humanitarian reasons that have no economic benefit.