Botswana asks for help on Zim influx

Botswana appealed for international help yesterday to ease the effect of an influx of Zimbabweans whom it says are draining its resources.

Botswana appealed for international help yesterday to ease the effect of an influx of Zimbabweans whom it says are draining its resources.

"The influx of Zimbabweans, whether there is or there is no government in Harare, is an issue to be dealt with," foreign minister Phandu Sekelemani said on South African public broadcaster Safm.

"We ask the international community to help us because it is a drain on our resources," he said.

"We had more than 215 who crossed last week and we cannot turn them back once they qualify for refugee status."

Government sources said late last year Botswana was playing host to an estimated 250000 Zimbabweans - a number that was growing as conditions under President Robert Mugabe went from bad to worse.

Botswana earlier this month urged other nations in Southern Africa not to recognise Mugabe's re-election in a presidential run-off vote in which he was the only contender.

Sekelemani reiterated calls for Zimbabwe to be suspended from the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).

"As a country that practises democracy and the rule of law, Botswana does not ... recognise the outcome of the presidential run-off election." - Sapa-AFP

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