Internal Affairs

Over 8 000 asylum seekers and refugees currently hosted in Namibia

Summary

Namibia currently has a total of 8 118 asylum seekers and refugees, Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Immigration and Safety, Daniel Kashikola has revealed.Kashikola said this figure includes inactive cases from 17 countries: Bangladesh, Burundi, Camero…

Namibia currently has a total of 8 118 asylum seekers and refugees, Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Immigration and Safety, Daniel Kashikola has revealed.

Kashikola said this figure includes inactive cases from 17 countries: Bangladesh, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The inactive cases include those that did not turn up during the last verification exercise in 2021.

Kashikola made the remarks during the commemoration of World Refugee Day at Osire refugee camp on Monday, which was themed ‘Whoever, Wherever, Whenever, Everyone Has the Right to Seek Safety’.

The day is observed annually on 20 June to commemorate the universal challenges and achievements of refugees worldwide.

It also honours the courage and determination of women, men and children who are forced to flee their home countries to escape conflict, persecution and violence.

“It is critical to recognise that Namibia is a sovereign country with its own policies regarding the movement of people, including asylum seekers and refugees. I want to be clear that being in the settlement (Osire) does not imply that asylum seekers and refugees are being held in concentration camps; this is not the case. After obtaining exit permits from the Settlement Administrator, asylum seekers and refugees can travel to nearby towns of Okahandja, Otjiwarongo, Okakarara and Windhoek for shopping and other necessities,” he said.

Kashikola added that it is critical to understand that refugee status is not a permanent one; it must end at some point, and that voluntary repatriation is the best and most viable long-term solution.

“In this regard, the ministry, in collaboration with UNHCR, is engaging countries that have maintained peace and whose nationals are still in Namibia as refugees in order to begin discussions on voluntary repatriation of their citizens,” he said.

Bernadette Muteshi, Senior Legal Officer for UNHCR in Namibia, stated that everyone has the right to seek safety, regardless of who they are, where they come from, or when they are forced to flee.

She stated that seeking asylum and safety is a human right that is enshrined, among other places, in Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which Namibia is a “proud signatory”.

Source: The Namibian Press Agency