Botswana to expel Eritrean footballers
Eritrean players singing their country's national anthem before the Zebras Eritrea match (Picture:. KEAOGILE BONANG)
By Tefo Pheage
After a series of meetings and court battles, the government has rescinded its decision to grant the Eritrean players asylum, stating that the 10 must go and seek asylum elsewhere.
This is contained in a letter written by the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security, permanent secretary, Segakweng Tsiane, to the United Nations refugee agency, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
The agency is mandated to protect and support refugees at the request of a government or the UN itself and assist in their voluntary repatriation, local integration or resettlement to a third country.
The letter, which has been passed to this publication by sources at the ministry, warns the refugee agency to prepare for the eviction of the players and further says the Botswana government is not ready to grant the players asylum.
The government further says the agency must in the meantime find accommodation for the players as they will be evicted soon from Dukwi Refugee camp where they had been accommodated.
Information received by this publication is that the President and his
lieutenants have been huffing and puffing over the issue since the High Court ruled in the players’ favour.
The harsh and reckless treatment of this group is likely to dent Botswana’s decorated international image, according to experts. UNHCR has been left in shock by the decision and is still to make a move on the latest developments, especially that they are coming hot on the heels of government’s decision to grant the players asylum.
Many thought the Defence minister, Shaw Kgathi was ready to retract his previous negative remarks against the Eritreans. The case is also likely to attract a lawsuit from the players’ lawyers who have vowed to keep a close eye on the case.
Spokesperson for the Ministry Samma Tabudi said that she was not aware of the developments, but referred Mmegi to the deputy permanent secretary in the ministry Augustine Makgonatsotlhe.
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