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Hungry Zimbabweans volunteer for repartriation

Following more than a month of the national lockdown due to the Covid-19 outbreak, Zimbabwean nationals have requested Botswana government to assist them to return home.

Most of the immigrants survive by doing piece jobs but due to the movement restrictions their daily struggle for survival has become even harder.

Botswana government has since started a food distribution programme for deserving citizens and the hungry immigrants have reached out for assistance after handing themselves over to the police.

Recently the Ministry of International Affairs and Cooperation and Zimbabwe Embassy to Botswana embarked on a joint voluntary repatriation exercise to aid Zimbabweans to return home.

The repatriation was undertaken by road from the 6th to the 8th of May and Zimbabwean authorities welcomed the returnees at Ramokgwebana Border Post.

On May 6th about 95 Zimbabweans, 59 male, 32 female and four minors were repatriated.

They were from Selebi Phikwe, Serowe, Palapye and Francistown.

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Speaking to The Voice, Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs- Anna Mokgethi, said the lockdown had an impact on the Zimbabweans livelihood.

She said some of them were illegal immigrants in police holding cells while some were in the country legally.

The Minister said both Botswana and Zimbabwe are committed to ensure the safe and humane repatriation of the concerned nationals.

“They were not coping because our government is also struggling to feed its people during this pandemic. We really feel for our neighbours on moral and humanitarian ground but we also can’t afford to feed them. Already we have Batswana who call and say the assessment was not done right and they need food, so imagine how hard the situation would be if we gave food hampers to foreigners. I will also be sending the wrong message as a minister giving illegal immigrants food. The best way was to assist them with transport back to their country though it is also costly to our government,” said Mokgethi

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