*Refugees demand resettlement by staging a sit in
* Police nab father & children outside UNHCR offices
A protesting Congolese refugee seeking resettlement to a third country was arrested outside United Nation’s High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) offices on Wednesday night.
In desperation, Samuel Byamungu Nondo, 45, had staged a sit in at the UNCR Gaborone premises when police pounced on him.
Before the arrest, Nondo, who arrived from Dukwi refugee camp with his seven children had planned to remain at the UNHCR premises until his plea for resettlement was answered.
In an interview on Wednesday afternoon before he was carted off in a police van he said, “I do not know how long it will take, but I have no plans of going back to Dukwi. I have been living in that refugee camp for over 17 years now and the resettlement opportunity is the only ticket for me to live a normal life since Botswana has refused to officially grant me local integration and on the other side, there is no sign that the DRC conflict will end any time soon.”
Nondo arrived in Botswana in 2001 fleeing civil unrest in East DRC.
He had resorted to coercing UNHRC management into resettling him when he heard that the organisation would relocate to the neighbouring South Africa in January 2019.
“Since 2012, UNHCR has helped resettle over 80 families that have not only found me on resettlement programme queue, but have also stayed in Dukwi refugee camp for less than 4 years ignoring my 17 years long wait. Right now 30 families are being interviewed for resettlement and my family has not been included in the list yet again and I am worried because the UNHCR management is relocating to South Africa next year,” Nondo stated.
He was part of the 60 families that were recommended for resettlement in 2012 by UNHCR. However Nondo was mysteriously omitted when names were submitted to countries offering asylum, which included Australia, Canada, Sweden and United States of America.
This misfortune however turned out to be a blessing in disguise because in 2015, the two children he had left in DRC when he fled the troubled country arrived in Botswana in search of him.
Bruised and hungry, the children who were in the company of their four orphaned cousins reunited with their father at the refugee camp.
“I was 16 then and we escaped from DRC after me and my sister were kidnapped by militants. I had to find a way to find our father, so I took my sibling and my cousins; the youngest was nine and embarked on the long journey to Botswana. We had heard a rumour that he could be in Botswana, so we came here,” Nondo’s eldest son, said.
The traumatised now 20-year -old still lives in fear after losing his mother, aunt and an uncle to the DRC violance.
“After my mom was killed during an attack by rebels at home, our aunt took us in. However she was also killed in town during another attack by rebels. We then moved in with our uncle but even in his area there was no peace, and my uncle was killed during a conflict over cattle so I remained working in the farms to care for the younger children until I decided to find dad,” explained the young man.