The food assistance to refugees and asylum seekers in Osire camp has been ongoing since the first influx of Angolan refugees between 1999 and 2002, during which time some 23,000 Angolans fled into Namibia. After the cessation of active conflict in Angola, joint UNHCR/IOM repatriation efforts from 2002 to the end of 2005 facilitated the repatriation of the majority of Angolan refugees back to their homes, however, some 6,500 people currently remain in Osire. The camp population at present includes Angolans who did not choose to repatriate, as well as refugees and asylum seekers from the DRC, Burundi, and Rwanda.
The first UNHCR/WFP Joint Assessment Mission (JAM), carried out in May 2006, examined food security and protection issues in Osire camp, concluding that refugees and asylum seekers in Osire were food secure only because of the regular food assistance from WFP. The assessment also confirmed that stemming from a strict confinement policy in place, refugees and asylum seekers remain highly vulnerable with no official access to arable land, labor markets, and higher education opportunities.
A second UNHCR/ WFP Joint Assessment and Evaluation Mission (JAEM) in Osire camp was held from 28th Feb - 05th Mar 2008. The mission focused on assessing food security and livelihood options for refugees and asylum seekers, evaluating the impact and effectiveness of WFP/UNHCR assistance within Osire Camp, and formulating clear recommendations concerning the future of assistance provided to Osire residents.
The JAEM was comprised of two teams: 1) a household survey team, which administered a questionnaire to 250 households and conducted anthropometric measurements of children under 5 years of age, and 2) an assessment team that reviewed secondary data and conducted focus group discussions and key informant interviews. Prior to the camp level assessment, information-sharing meetings were held with the Permanent Secretaries in the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration (MHAI) and Ministry of Health and Social Services (MOHSS), the Commissioner for Refugees, and the Osire Camp Administrator. Meetings were also held in Otjiwarongo with the Otjozondjupa regional governor, local police, and the regional directorates of Agriculture, Education and Health.
- WFP/UNHCR to plan to extend assistance to refugees and asylum seekers until the end of 2009. Despite the positive steps taken by the Government of the Republic of Namibia (GRN) in taking ownership and responsibility for refugees, particularly in the major sectors of education and health care, the remaining number of refugees requiring protection and food assistance is unlikely to change in the next two to three years, especially for Angolans who are waiting for national elections to take place before considering definitive repatriation (presidential elections expected in 2009).
- WFP to adopt individualized ration cards and consider ration reductions for certain segments of the camp population. WFP has been providing a monthly food ration through general food distributions to meet the beneficiaries' full daily nutritional requirement of 2,100 kcals on the basis that beneficiaries have neither access to the labor market nor enough land for cultivation. The mission brought some evidence of existing, although limited, coping strategies and income generating activities which provide some groups of Osire residents with alternative sources of income/ food. The Highly Food Secure households, which comprise 29% of the camp population, may well be able to support itself in the absence of food aid. In addition, there is a large mobile segment of the population, with high food security status and income earning capacity, whose family members benefit from extra food rations while these mobile individuals are not present in the camp. Given the scarce resourcing situation, the mission recommends that those resources which are available are channeled towards the "real" residents of the camp. Moving away from the current family distribution card to individual ration cards could pave the way for more effective commodity procurement and program implementation.
- Additional agricultural/livelihood support is needed to improve self-reliance in Osire. Opportunities for income generation and self-reliance, both inside and outside of Osire camp are constrained by a number of factors. In the agricultural sector the climate and condition of the soil in the region make large-scale crop production extremely difficult. Only serious agricultural inputs (improved crop variety, drought resistant crops, agro-forestry, irrigation, intensive training etc.) could guarantee a minimum productivity for the land surrounding the camp. For refugees and asylum seekers not involved in agriculture, lack of vocational training, restrictions on movement, and strict requirements for obtaining a work permit in Namibia seriously constrain income generation possibilities. In order to improve self-reliance in Osire camp, additional technical support that could benefit the neighboring communities as well should be provided together with adequate investment and equipment provisions. FAO and/or UNDP may be interested in providing this type of support.
- Discussions with the Namibian government concerning the taking-over of service provision in Osire and identification of durable solutions for the camp population should continue. The Namibian government has taken positive steps in assuming responsibility for education and health provision within Osire camp. Negotiations are ongoing concerning possibilities for alternative status or local integration for sections of the camp population.