Osire Refugee Camp very well run: Mgbangson

OSIRE: United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) country representative Lawrence Mgbangson has commended Namibia for offering assistance and protection to refugees in compliance with international and domestic refugee laws and practices.

Mgbangson, who was speaking at the Osire Refugee Camp on World Refugee Day on Friday, said Namibia has worked hard to find a durable solution to the issue of the thousands of refugees who were previously living in the country.

“We can say the Osire Refugee Camp can be proud to be one of the most well managed refugee settlements in the world,” he said.

The camp has a school which offers primary school and secondary school level education. Some fortunate learners even go on to study at institutions of higher learning.

Osire also has a clinic which is manned by well-trained medical officers and nurses, and is well stocked with drugs. The camp in addition has a police station with more than 20 police officers.

“One can say the Osire refugees are fortunate thanks to the unlimited hospitality extended to them by the people and government of Namibia,” Mgbangson stated.

Joint efforts by the Namibian government, UNCHR, the World Food Programme, International Organisation for Migration and African Humanitarian Action have helped to bring the refugee population down from 20 000 in the 1990s to less than 4 000 currently.

“With this excellent work done and positive results achieved, the UNHCR is thinking aloud to among other things phase out its operations in Namibia,” the UNHCR country representative said.

He emphasised that the phasing out of UNCHR operations is however not unique to Namibia only.

It is a regional approach to close down smaller offices in the region including Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho, Madagascar, among others, he said.

But before UNCHR phases its operations out, Mgbangson said, it will put in place programmes that will guarantee the smooth running of refugee operations to ensure the continuous protection and assistance of the remaining refugees in Namibia and the reception of new ones in future.

The programmes will include building the capacity of line ministries dealing with refugee matters, as well as regular monitoring and training.

“When UNHCR finally leaves, a programme for the continuous refugee work in Namibia will be established jointly with the government and the UN sister agencies, amongst others. This programme will be in force for a limited time, while the government and its people work towards the realisation of the slogan ‘Namibians working towards a world without refugees,” he said.

The life of a refugee must and should be a temporary one, Mgbangson said.

Thousands of refugees at Osire observed World Refugee Day and celebrated the 40th anniversary of the coming into force of the African Union Convention governing specific aspects of refugee problems in Africa of 1969.

Osire is situated more than 100 kilometres south-east of Otjiwarongo in the Otjozondjupa Region.