African refugee migration continues
Story by Alvine Kapitako
WINDHOEK - Namibia continues to receive inflows of new African refugees with 15 to 20 new arrivals recorded monthly, says the Commissioner for Refugees in the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration, Nkrumah Mushelenga.
Speaking at the opening of a two-day intensive training of paralegals and refugee officers in Windhoek yesterday, he said African refugees come mostly from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) via Zambia through the Wenela border post in Katima Mulilo into the interior of the country. He said there are about 3 000 refugees and asylum seekers in Namibia, the majority of whom are women and children from the strife-torn DRC, Burundi and Rwanda.
The number of Angolan refugees in Namibia decreased drastically in the past months as a result of a cessation clause, which allowed them to be repatriated voluntarily.
Mushelenga confirmed in an interview with New Era that there are 115 former Angolan refugee learners studying in the country, adding that they are in grades 10, 11 and 12 and once they complete their studies they would have to go back to Angola.
Also, he said 1 742 former Angolan refugees are waiting to be integrated in local communities after they expressed their preference to remain and make Namibia their permanent home. "They are no longer refugees and they are not getting food," said Mushelenga of the former Angolan refugees.
This situation has prompted many to look for jobs, he explained, adding that the local integration of former Angolan refugees is being sped up for this purpose. He explained that a reception centre for refugees would be opened at the Wenela border post in Katima Mulilo, as most refugees enter the country through that town.
The reception centre is expected to open in July and would enable refugee administrators to provide services to new arrivals on the spot. The new arrivals would be screened and if they qualify they would then be transported to the Osire refugee camp.
"For those who do not qualify for refugee status, transport arrangements will be made for them to be sent back to Zambia where they came through," he explained.