Refugee influx at Osire persists

21 Jun 2018 13:40pm
OSIRE, 21 JUN (NAMPA) – Officials dealing with refugees at Osire settlement have reported a monthly influx of refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)’s Kivu districts.
This was said by Deputy Director for Settlement and Reception Areas of Osire and Katima Mulilo, Josephine Nghimtina on Wednesday, during the celebration of International World Refugee Day held at Osire.
She said the settlement is housing other refugees from Burundi, Rwanda, Nigeria, Cameroon, Zimbabwe and some other countries in small numbers.
Osire was established in 1992 with a refugee population of over 25 000 until in 2014, when many Angolans took voluntary repatriation after Angola regained its peace and stability.
“From 25 000 in 1992, to 3 000 in 2014 was a huge drop. But now since 2017, we are seeing an increased migration bringing a total verified number of refugees and asylum seekers in the settlement to 4 500,” said Nghimtina.
The migration is largely attributed to new conflicts in the DRC’s northern and southern Kivu districts, where regular protests are occurring against the long stay onto power by President Joseph Kabila.
Nghimtina said from January to December 2017, a total of 625 Congolese entered Namibia through different entry points and were absorbed by Osire as refugees.
She said as from January to June 2018, 359 Congolese refugees have been resettled at Osire.
Osire is situated approximately 120 kilometres south east of Otjiwarongo in the Otjozondjupa Region.
Otjozondjupa Regional Governor, Otto Ipinge in a statement read on his behalf said housing these refugees is a core part of what the nation is well-known for doing in the past years.
Ipinge said the Namibian Government will remain committed in giving humanitarian assistance to refugees and protection to asylum seekers in accordance with the 1951 Refugee Convention, and 1967 protocols relating to the status of refugees.
“As Namibians, let us recognise our responsibilities and open doors with a welcoming hand to the most vulnerable neighbours during their time of greatest need,” he said.
Senior Regional Protection Officer for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), George Kuchio at the celebrations said when conflicts emerge, millions of people are uprooted and displaced.
“Therefore, taking care of refugees must be a global and shared responsibility,” he said.
However, in 2015, the UNHCR in Namibia discontinued its technical and social operations and handed over the Osire Refugee Settlement to Komeho Namibia, which is a humanitarian organisation ensuring the upkeep of asylum seekers and refugees here.
The Namibian Government continues to provide Osire with the most needed essential services, such as a pre-primary and senior secondary school, police station, clinic, postal services and offices for the ministries of agriculture and home affairs and immigration.