WINDHOEK - The Commissioner for Refugees in the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration, Nkrumah Mushelenga, says inadequate transport is a challenge to the Angolan voluntary repatriation process that started on May 16.
Considering that there are only two weeks left before the deadline for the voluntary repatriation process, Mushelenga said there is a need for more transport to make the “facilitation of the process” easier.
“We need more vehicles,” said Mushelenga who explained that renting busses and trucks to repatriate the Angolan refugees and their belongings is costly.
He said the Ministry of Defence contributed eight trucks to assist with the process.
“But we need more,” he said.
A total of nine busses are being used to transport Angolan refugees to their destinations, said Mushelenga.
He said the last day to repatriate Angolan refugees is June 27, but the date could be extended to July 4 because of the transport challenge.
He said there is a need for individuals and entities to assist with transport so that the refugees are repatriated to their destinations within the planned time frame.
Meanwhile, a total of 430 refugees were repatriated early Monday (June 18) morning to the Cuando Cubango province in Angola via the Katwitwi border post.
Since the voluntary repatriation process started, 1 518 refugees have been repatriated.
Another 400 refugees would be repatriated to the Cunene Province in Angola on Wednesday, said Mushelenga.
Until the voluntary repatriation process was launched, Namibia hosted 4 350 Angolan refugees of whom 3 908 were accommodated at Osire refugee camp.
A total of 3 200 Angolan refugees registered for the voluntary repatriation process.
Mushelenga was hopeful that all Angolan refugees who voluntarily registered for repatriation would be transported to their destination by the time the Angolan refugee status clause expires on June 30 or latest by July 4, if transport logistics continue being a challenge.
Angolans all over the world will lose their refugee status on June 30, 2012. This means that they will no longer enjoy the international protection and assistance they enjoyed previously as refugees.
The privileges that they will forfeit include free education, medical care, food, shelter and free legal protection.
Overall, the repatriation process is going smoothly, Mushelenga said. He added that precautions are being taken to make sure that the refugees arrive safely at their destinations.
“We are hoping that the exercise will conclude without any incidents. We don’t drive at night,” said Mushelenga.
Refugees from other countries currently living at the Osire settlement are being sensitized to be ready, as they too would follow in the footsteps of the Angolans, Mushelenga added.
The move is aimed at creating awareness so that when the international community pronounces itself on when other groups of refugees are to be repatriated, they would be ready, explained Mushelenga.