Former Angolan refugees should move from Osire: Mushelenga

26 Jan 2014 16:00pm
OSIRE, 18 JAN (NAMPA) - All former Angolan refugees residing at the Osire refugee camp have to move from the camp as from March this year, the Commissioner of Refugees in the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration, Nkrumah Mushelenga says.
Mushelenga made the statement while speaking at the refugee camp situated near Otjiwarongo in the Otjozondjupa Region on Friday, saying all former Angolan refugees should understand that their “jacket of refugee status” was removed on 30 June 2013.
“I, in my capacity as the Commissioner for Refugees in this country, am here today along with the UNHCR country representative to remind you that as from March 2014, all of you must move out of Osire to the places of your choice. Osire settlement in terms of the refugee laws is for refugee settlement, and not for ordinary Namibians or non-Namibians,” he said.
Nampa reported last year that Namibia is still home to over 2 000 Angolan refugees who are reluctant to return to their country, despite a voluntary repatriation process organised by the United Nations (UN).
Mushelenga on Friday explained that the Namibian Government has agreed to locally integrate 2 400 former Angolan refugees.
He said the governments of Namibia and Angola, as well as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had a meeting in October last year to look into the possibility of speeding up the local integration process of 1 742 profiled former Angolan refugees.
Profiled refugees are those individuals who have already applied for permanent residence status, Mushelenga noted.
“The deadline to finalise the local integration process is 28 February 2014,” he said.
An Angolan technical delegation is expected to arrive in Namibia on Sunday to start issuing national documents to profiled former Angolan refugees for local integration purposes.
Mushelenga said it is vital for the Namibian and Angolan governments to have an accurate database of former Angolan refugees living in Namibia, as well as those refugees who are self-settled along the common border the two countries share.
“We urge all affected community members, both profiled and non-profiled, to uphold this important exercise where you are all going to be issued with Angolan national documents,” he said, adding that the dates and venues where this will be done will be communicated to the former refugees.
He further said all former refugees who are married to people of other nationalities residing at the Osire refugee camp will have to decide whether they want to be locally integrated along with their spouse.
These individuals have up to 24 January 2014 to decide which status they prefer - refugee status or local integration.
They are expected to forward their decision to the office of the acting settlement administrator before 24 January.
Also speaking at the event, UNHCR country representative Lawrence Mgbangson explained to the refugees that the UNHCR is busy phasing out its activities in Namibia.
Mgbangson was reported in local media last year as saying the UNHCR plans to phase out its operations in Namibia during 2014 and 2015. At the time, he cited the reduction of the refugee population in the country, emergencies in other parts of the world, Namibia being regarded as a middle income country, and a reduction in donor funding as the reasons for the UNHCR pulling out of Namibia.
Speaking on Friday, Mgbangson told those present the international community is facing great problems in countries such as Syria, Lebanon, Mali, and South Sudan, where people are dying in their thousands every day.
“Because of these humanitarian conflicts, all the world’s money and staff that they usually give to support you are going to these areas,” the UNHCR country representative said.