25 Jun 2013 08:00
OSIRE REFUGEES SATISFIED WITH HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE FROM NAMIBIA
By Mulisa Simiyasa
(NAMPA FEATURES SERVICE)
OSIRE, 25 JUN (NAMPA) - A woman sits on a plastic chair, constantly checking on the ?vetkoek? she?s deep-frying in a little black pot on a fire.
Kaina Kalala has lived at the Osire Refugee Camp, situated some 100 kilometres south-east of Otjiwarongo in the Otjozondjupa Region, since 2002.
Originally from Moba in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the 40-year-old Kalala says the peace she enjoys in Namibia has wiped away the memories of war which tore apart families in the DRC.
?There is no xenophobia here at the camp, or discrimination whatsoever. This is a stable country. Guard its peace and freedom. Don?t allow war and political conflict to crush it,? she said while speaking to Nampa at an event on 18 June for the commemoration of World Refugee Day.
Although many would associate the name refugee camp with hardship, Kalala sounds content with the life she has created for herself at the refugee camp with her five children.
?My children have been in school here at the Osire Combined School. Two of them have completed Grade 12 already. What a blessing to be in this country,? she remarked.
She gets an income from the vetkoek she makes.
?I have a house in the camp, I make cakes for my business - a business I could not dream of back home in the DRC,? she noted.
Kalala was just one of a number of refugees spoken to on the day, who said they were happy with the treatment they have received from the Namibian Government.
On World Refugee Day, the Namibian Government pledged its continual support to refugees and asylum seekers.
Osire was founded in the 1970s to provide shelter to mostly Angolans who fled the civil war which broke out between Angolan Government armed forces and Unita (National Union for the Total Independence of Angola) bandits led by Jonas Savimbi, later killed in an ambush attack in February 2002 by Angolan military armed forces.
Since 1975, Osire has been home to refugees from Angola, DRC, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Somalia, Ruanda and Burundi, amongst other countries.
A number of the men and women spoken to at the event had only good things to say about the Namibian Government for providing them with basic necessities such as running water, electricity, and most importantly, shelter.
The refugee camp has a combined school, health centre, police station, post office, Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration Office, vegetable gardens and shops.
Kongolo Kazadi, 20, arrived at Osire from DRC in 2002 at the age of nine. She was enrolled at the Osire Combined School and in 2011, completed Grade 12 with 35 points.
?I am now prevented from furthering my education due to some identification documents I don?t have,? a sad Kazadi said.
Ilunga Kazadi, 23, also from the DRC, said he dreamed of living in a country with limited freedom of expression.
?Namibia is one country I dream to live in forever. You have freedom of expression of the highest degree here, and that shapes any country for a better future,? he stated.
Another thing he praised Namibia for is the fact that Namibians can find employment in any region without being rejected on the basis of ethnic and cultural differences, saying this binds Namibians together.
Kazadi spoke about how, in some other African countries, the so-called ?superior? tribes have their own developed and clean towns, whilst those from the perceived 'inferior' tribes are pushed into smaller towns where there is no employment.
The commemoration of World Refugee Day at Osire was also attended by the United Nations Higher Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Country Representative, Dr Lawrence Oba Mgbangson.
In his official statement, Mgbangson praised Namibia for its continuing provision of co-operation and assistance to the refugees.
He said it is a fact that the living conditions of the refugees at Osire is far better than that of some Namibians residing in certain areas of the country, therefore, the Namibian Government must be praised.
?This is one of the reasons why the UNHCR is grateful to the people and Government of Namibia for their generosity and hospitality towards the refugees at Osire,? he said.
Mgbangson later revealed his happiness about the huge reduction in the number of refugees at Osire.
In June last year, about 3 000 Angolan refugees were voluntarily repatriated to their home country.
Before 30 June 2012, there were about 6 000 refugees at Osire in total, but currently, there are only 2 800 refugees here.
He then promised to continue working with the Namibian Government to integrate the remaining Angolan refugees to Namibia - those who did not return to Angola due to other social reasons.
Mgbangson said the UNHCR will also work towards resettling about 2 000 refugees from the DRC elsewhere in order to reduce the number of refugees at Osire to 200.
The Namibian Government through the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration on its part announced at the commemoration that it will continue to host refugees and asylum seekers present in the country.