Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) notes with concern the illegal great trek of Congolese and Rwandese nationals (who are refuges in Dukwi Refugee Camp in Botswana) into Zimbabwe through Bulilima (Matabeleland South province).

  1. On the 17th of November 2017, 10 refugees who were aboard a bus from Bambadzi to Bulawayo were forced to alight at a roadblock soon after Plumtree because they did not have identity documents.
  2. On the 2nd of December a group of close to 60 refugees were taken by a bus crew to Maitengwe Border Police Station after having boarded the bus in a bid to go to Bulawayo.
  3. Some of the refugees that confidentially spoke to our members indicated that they were leaving their Botswana Dukwi Camp due to discrimination and ill-treatment and they were trying to move to the Zimbabwe refugee camp in Chipinge. They indicated that they crossed the border illegally and some also indicated that the news of Mugabe ouster promises a brighter future for Zimbabwe thus they were hoping for a better life in Zimbabwe.
  4. Some Bulilima villagers (in the Bambadzi area) have also revealed to the institute that some of these refugees are now being abused by some Bulilima villagers as cheap labour.

In view of the above issues, MIHR therefore calls on:

  1. The UNHCR to investigate the situation of refugees in Botswana Ddukwi Refugee Camp and issue public communique.
  2. The Botswana Human Rights Commission, Botswana human rights civic society and the SADC Congress of NGOs to visit the Botswana Dukwi Refugee Camp to monitor the human rights situation of the refugees and issue a communique on their findings.
  3. The SADC Parliamentary Forum and the UNHCR to investigate the situation of refugees in all refugee camps within the region and issue a communique on their findings.
  4. The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission to investigate the issue and liaise with relevant local communities within the Bulilima community.
  5. The Zimbabwe government (through relevant institutions) to treat the great trek of refugees from Botswana into Zimbabwe as a critical human rights and human security issue that has potential to violate right to security for local Bulilima residents but also treating the refugees in a human rights sensitive manner.

Statement by:

Benedict Sibasa

MIHR General Secretary



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