UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
NAMIBIA-BOTSWANA: Border tensions
JOHANNESBURG, 15 February (IRIN) - The International Court of Justice in The Hague on Monday started hearing arguments by Namibia and Botswana over a territorial dispute on land claims in the Caprivi Strip area.
A Namibian government spokesman told IRIN both nations had agreed to submit their cases to the court after failing to resolve the issue through bilateral negotiations.
The case opened as tensions between the two countries increased after Botswana agreed late last week to grant refugee status to fifteen asylum seekers who have fled a security crackdown on alleged secessionists in Caprivi.
The spokesman said Namibia had since sent a note of protest to Botswana government saying the decision to give the fifteen refugee status was "shocking and unacceptable". It called on Botswana to reconsider the decision. Last year, Namibia demanded the return of the 15 to stand trial.
Since October, according to UNHCR figures, more than 2,400 Namibians have crossed south into Botswana from the Caprivi Strip. In a brief statement the Botswana government said it was considering the cases of all the asylum seekers. It said it had decided to give refuge to the 15, who include a number of local leaders and politicians, "in consonance with the country's commitment to international law as well as the relevant UN Conventions and instruments concerning refugees and displaced persons".
A UNHCR official told IRIN that the granting of refugee status constituted an international obligation and should not be construed as a reflection on the conduct of a neighbouring government.
Date: Tue, 16 Feb 1999 00:24:40 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Southern Africa <email@example.com> Subject: NAMIBIA-BOTSWANA: Border tensions 1999.2.15
Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar, firstname.lastname@example.org