Hundreds Of Batswana In Diaspora Arriving Home

More than one hundred Batswana in diaspora are expected to arrive in Gaborone this week on board a chartered Ethiopian Airways flight. President Mokgweetsi Masisi announced Saturday night that the citizens will connect through Addis Ababa and that, the Ethiopian Airliner has been engaged to facilitate their arrival home.

This will be an addition to more than four hundred Batswana resident in South Africa and other neighbouring countries who have since returned home through government’s facilitation after they were caught in the travel restrictions as a result of the covid-19 pandemic.

Masisi highlighted that those coming home are Batswana who are in a position to pay for their flights home, adding that government will continue to assist those in dire need and desperate to return home amid the covid-19 travel restrictions.

“Our expectation is that the chartered Ethiopian Airlines flight will arrive in Gaborone on 3rd June 2020 with more than one hundred (100) of our citizens on board. Furthermore, Namib Air has also been engaged to assist in the transportation of Batswana from London and Frankfurt,” Masisi noted. He further highlighted that majority of Batswana in South Africa and willing to return home continue to be assisted with the assistance of the Southern African government.

To further assist Batswana who were caught up outside the country, Masisi said government has been exploring various ways through which they can cope with the impacts of the pandemic in their various areas, and a decision was taken to assist those in need financially.

“The process to administer this financial assistance through our diplomatic missions is at an advanced stage. I must emphasise though that such assistance is as I said, temporary and comes at great cost we will have to forego other things we had planned for, to achieve this,” Masisi told the nation.

The assistance for those identified as deserving according to Masisi, will be limited to the months of May and June, adding that government sponsored students, students on scholarships provided by foreign governments and other institutions, and privately sponsored students are among those who will be assisted.

“It must be appreciated therefore, that our on-going efforts to safeguard the future of Botswana in the face of this pandemic will be costly and require that hard choices be made to prioritize the limited resources at our disposal. That is why even though we value all our citizens in the diaspora, the priority for any interventions will be limited to only those in dire circumstances and are unable to sustain themselves during this difficult time.”

Meanwhile as the country emerges from a 49 day of extreme social distancing, economic activity has gradually been taking shape. With the schools across the country opening this week – June 2, and various pundits having doubted the readiness of government for such a move, Masisi has indicated that the education system is ready to adapt to the new normal.

He indicated that as part of this new normal, classes have been halved from what they initially have been with schools operating in shifts. He said this was in line with ensuring the system adheres to the health protocols of social distancing.

“Our teachers are the front-line staff in schools to ensure that social distancing and all other measures to contain the spread and transmission of the virus in schools are in place and are effective,” he said.

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