Namibia: Angola Refugees

Appeal no: 36/99


The recent influx of Angolan refugees from southern Angola into northern Namibia has placed an additional burden on Government resources, already strained by a pre-existing refugee population. In consultation with the Government and UNHCR, a Federation Regional Disaster Response Team will be deployed to support the Namibia Red Cross (NRC) in providing humanitarian assistance to refugees in Osire camp. Care and maintenance assistance will be provided in shelter, non-food items, health, water, sanitation, social services, and tracing. Given the uncertainty of the situation and the potential for a further influx of refugees, the programme is also intended to support NRC capacity building efforts as well as the updating of contingency plans.

The Disaster

The renewed conflict between the Angolan Government army (FAA) and UNITA has resulted in a significant refugee influx from southern Angola to northern Namibia. The influx began in early December, and over 8,000 refugees have arrived to date. Taking into account the existing refugee caseload as well as the expectation that a significant number of refugees will continue to seek safety from the ongoing military action in Angola, this appeal makes provision for an eventual refugee caseload of 12,000.

The newly arrived refugees established temporary shelters in the Namibian border town of Rundu, and are being initially accommodated and registered at a transit centre 65 kms from Rundu before being transported to the Osire refugee camp, located 671 kms from Rundu and 250 kms from Windhoek, the Namibian capital. Another two transit centres will be established along the border to receive, tempo-rarily accommodate, and register newly arrived refugees. With the fighting continuing, the possibility of repatriation remains remote. The current refugee population in the Osire camps stands at 7,440, with daily influxes of between 50 to 100 persons.

The Osire camp was first established in 1992, and the physical and sanitary conditions are poor. Origi-nally established for some 2,000 refugees, the new influx of Angolan refugees has overburdened camp facilities, with a resulting overcrowding of tents, overwhelmed health services and facilities, a lack of sufficient water, and inadequate latrine coverage. The threat of an outbreak of disease or epidemics is a considerable concern. The rains which just started add to the already poor health and sanitary condi-tions. Food supplies, the responsibility of UNHCR and WFP, appear sufficient at present. A nutri-tional survey is planned for early January.

The majority of the refugees appear to be women and children, with an exceptionally high number under 5, as well as pregnant women.

The Response So Far

Government Action

The Government and UNHCR (as lead agency) are co-ordinating the operation. The refugee camp in Osire has been in operation since early 1992, but has only limited facilities which are now overwhelmed. UNHCR and the Government are providing transport from the transit areas to Osire Camp. The Ministry of Health have provided one nurse at the refugee camp while the normal district health facilities are available for referrals. UNHCR has collaborated with the Christian Council of Namibia (CCN) to administer the relatively small refugee operation, but with the recent influx both the Government and UNHCR have welcomed Federation and NRC intervention to reinforce the operation.

Red Cross/Red Crescent Action

With the exception of food, the NRC and the Federation will undertake responsibility for all sectors of assistance, including the transporting of health supplies which are provided by the Ministry of Health and distributed through their health representative and assisted by Red Cross personnel. The Namibian Red Cross branch in Rundu has been heavily involved from the outset in providing assistance to newly arrived refugees in co-odination with UNHCR. Tracing services are being provided by the NRC, with support from the ICRC.

At Osire, where the Namibian Red Cross established a clinic in the early 1990's, a Red Cross volunteer group consisting of refugees (some of which were formally Angola Red Cross volunteers) has been established. First Aid training has been given to 12 volunteers and first aid kits have been provided to reduce the workload on the clinic which has only one Ministry of Health nurse providing all the health services to the refugee community and to local people in the area. The National Society has deployed two full time staff in Rundu and Osire respectively to monitor the situation and to coordinate assistance activities.

Other Agencies Action

In-kind assistance has been provided or pledged by the British Red Cross, local diplomatic representatives, and NGO's. However, apart from CCN, there are no other operational agencies active in the refugee transit or camp areas.


UNHCR, in collaboration with the Government, will continue to co-ordination the refugee operation under a standard tripartite agreement between the NRC and the Federation.

The Intended Operation

Assessment of Needs

In addition to the initial assessment already carried out by the NRC and Federation team, a more detailed and in-depth assessment of needs will be carried out in close co-ordination with UNHCR and the Government targeting the particularly vulnerable refugees.

Immediate Needs

The immediate needs are for shelter, including plastic sheeting and family tents, kitchen sets, blankets, and used clothes. Health facilities need to be expanded, including additional health staff in Osire, and an ambulance for referrals, and physical expansion of the existing clinic. In terms of water and sanitation facilities, the water supply system with a present capacity of 3-5 litres available per person per day must be expanded to 20 litre's. Similarly, communal or family latrine construction will be expanded. The procurement of vector control materials and training will be carried out.

Anticipated Later Needs

Health education and awareness raising, expanded educational facilities for children, Maternal and Child Health Care (MCH) outreach and follow-up will be required, as well as support to a reproductive health programme.

Further capacity building among Namibia Red Cross staff and volunteers, on-site training and formal training will be required.

Red Cross Objectives

The NRC and Federation plan to:

  • meet the immediate needs of the refugees by deploying a Regional Disaster Response Team to provide management and infrastructure needs in the refugee camps.
  • Provide adequate shelter, clothing and blankets, health, water, and sanitation services, vector control, and social services with tracing for 12,000 refugees.

National Society/Federation Plan of Action

Emergency Phase: January - March, 2000

The Federation and NRC team will be deployed by January 15. Procurement of supplies, expansion of the health clinic, vehicle and communications deployment, water supply expansion, latrine construction, vector control spraying, and distribution of non-food and shelter items will be carried out. The water supply project, including the drilling of new boreholes, has already started. Construction of the Red Cross center in Osire and Red Cross staff accomodation in Osire and Rundu will also be undertaken. The health education activities will also be initiated.

Phase Two: April - June, 2000

The health education campaign will be intensified, and a survey of educational needs will be carried out.

Capacity of the National Society

The National Society has a variety of ongoing developmental programmes in the country, but has limited disaster response experience. Disaster Preparedness (DP) training and an annual disaster simulation in Harare has however been well attended by National Society staff and volunteers. Recent senior staff changes have somewhat reduced managerial capacity at the central level. The Regional Delegation will both directly support the operation as well as provide logistics, finance, and administrative support and training to the NRC.

Present Capacity of the Federation in Southern Africa Region

Recent events in Zambia and Zimbabwe this year have underlined the need for a strengthened Regional Disaster Response Capacity. Some success has been achieved, particularly the use of Regionally recruited human resources and the provision of logistics support from the Harare Regional Delegation for ongoing operations. The lessons learned and additional capacity gained will be instrumental for the proposed Namibia refugee operation.


In addition to ongoing monitoring activities, periodic evaluation will be carried out 3 and 6 months after the operation commences.

Budget summary

See Annex 1 for details.

The budget for family tents and associated transport costs has already been fully met by the British Red Cross/DFID.


Immediate support is required to assist thisnew refugee influx into Namibia. Meeting the needs of the refugees while reinforcing the capacity of the Namibia Red Cross are the Federation's primary objectives. This will be accomplished via a tripartite agreement between the NRC, the Federation, and UNHCR, based upon this appeal.

George Weber
Secretary General

Margareta Wahlström
Under Secretary General,
Disaster Response & Operations Coordination

Appeal No. 36/99
Annex I

Relief Needs
Non-food items
Family Tents
Plastic sheeting/Tarpaulins
Rubbhall (one)
Blankets (5,000)
Jerry Cans (500)
Prefabricated units (7) - staff accommodation
Construction of wat/san boreholes & latrines, vector chemicals & spraying equipment
Extension of Clinic in Osire - prefabricated units (3)
Extension of Rundu Transit - prefabricated units (3)
Medical Items
Cholera Kit, stretchers, first aid kits, sundries
Capital expenditures
Telecommunications equipment/Computers
Transport, storage & vehicles costs
Expatriate staff
National staff
Administrative, office & general services
Travel & Communications
Assessment/Survey mission/Evaluation
Printing Costs/Information/visibility
Other administrative services
Secretariat operational support