GABARONE, BOTSWANA – The government of Botswana has sought to assure thousands of undocumented immigrants that they will not be excluded from the country’s vaccination program against COVID-19.
Thousands of immigrants are entering Botswana, the majority fleeing the economic hardships of neighboring Zimbabwe. Some undocumented migrants say they are turned away from vaccination centers.
But Botswana‘s Deputy Minister of Health Sethomo Lelatisitswe told the National Assembly on Friday that no one, including immigrants, would be left out of the COVID-19 vaccination program. He said if immigrants and undocumented refugees were left out, hospitals across the country would be full tomorrow.
Deputy Dithapelo Keorapetse had asked during a session of the National Assembly whether undocumented migrants were vaccinated.
Need to publicize
Keorapetse said he does not understand why records are not kept on the number of migrants who have been vaccinated, in order to formulate a solid policy. He also said migrants should know they were eligible for the vaccination.
Mkhululi Moyo, one of thousands of immigrants from neighboring Zimbabwe who left in search of better economic opportunities, said he was happy that Botswana authorities explained the policy of vaccinating migrants.
” I’m happy that [assistant] minister clarified the issue of papers for foreigners, ”Moyo said. “We have a problem, but that means everything is fine. We hope that everything will go well according to what the minister said, and that there will be no difficulties. “
Health authorities now emphasize that they unconditionally help undocumented migrants.
Botswana expels around 22,000 unauthorized immigrants each year, mostly from Zimbabwe.