Sixteen Congolese arrive in Otjiwarongo, seeking refuge

20 Oct 2013 13:40pm
OTJIWARONGO, 20 OCT (NAMPA) – Sixteen Congolese nationals allegedly seeking refuge in Namibia, were on Saturday evening dropped off at the Otjiwarongo Police Station by an unknown bus driver.
A Namibian Police Force (NamPol) officer at the Otjiwarongo Police Station, who spoke to Nampa on condition of anonymity Sunday morning, said the 16 Congolese were dropped off at the Otjiwarongo Police Station shortly after 23H00.
It could not be established if they are from the Republic of Congo or the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The Congolese told the officer that they are allegedly running away from their country to Namibia, and would like to be transported to any refugee camp in the country.
The group comprises of 11 men and five women, and is led by a 55-year-old man. The youngest is 2 years old.
This Nampa reporter visited them on Sunday morning in the backyard of the Otjiwarongo Police Station where they spent the night, and found them eating brown bread provided by the police station’s kitchen.
None of them could express themselves in English, and only communicated in Swahili.
There is high possibility that they would be taken to the Osire Refugee Camp, situated some 100 kilometres south-east of Otjiwarongo in the Otjozondjupa Region.
Osire was founded in the 1970s to provide shelter to mostly Angolan nationals who had fled the Angolan civil war.
Osire is still home to refugees from the DRC, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Somalia, Ruanda and Burundi among other countries.
It has an active combined school, health centre facility, police station, post office, home affairs and immigration office, vegetable gardens and various shops.
The United Nations’ High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Country Representative, Dr Lawrence Oba Mgbangson was not aware of any Congolese national who entered Namibia on Saturday night.
He referred this journalist to the UNHCR Protection Officer, Festus Hamukwaya, who also denied knowledge of any new Congolese nationals seeking refuge in the country.