Namibia’s Ambassador to France Frieda Nangula-Ithete yesterday assured the nation that all Namibians – including two senior ministers currently on an official trip to France – are safe, in the wake of the terror attacks on Paris by members of the Islamic State.
Parisians woke up on Saturday to an eerily silent and tense city, after a night of terror which saw a series of coordinated gun and suicide bomb attacks. The coordinated gun and bomb attacks in Paris that killed 129 people and wounded 352, with 99 victims in critical condition, took place at a sold-out concert hall, restaurants, bars and outside France’s Stade de France national stadium on Friday night.
“At the moment, the situation is calm. We are told to keep calm and listen to the instructions given. We have official confirmation that no Namibian was involved in the attacks and it gives us consolation that we are all safe,” Nangula-Ithete told New Era from Paris via telephone yesterday.
She said high-ranking Namibian officials, including the Minister of Higher Education, Innovation and Training Dr Itah Kandjii-Murangi, and her 32-strong delegation, are in France for a UNESCO meeting, but all are accounted for and safe.
Deputy Minister of Information and Communication Technology Stanley Simaata, who is the substantive representative of Namibia on the UNESCO executive board is also safe. Simaata is in Paris for the 38th UNESCO general conference, which ends on Wednesday.
The ambassador said although they been advised to remain indoors since the attacks took place, she nevertheless decided to drive through the streets of Paris on Saturday to assess the situation on the ground for herself.
“I drove through some parts yesterday (Saturday), although we were directed to stay indoors. This morning (Sunday) I drove again through the streets and it was very quiet. There is no traffic jam as always. We also did a roll call this morning (Sunday) to Namibians, including our Minister of Higher Education and our Deputy Information Minister Simaata. There was also another Namibian delegation, who came for the Colmar event. I spoke to them and they said they had arrived home (in Namibia this morning. I spoke to them personally and they are all fine,” she said.
Regarding Namibian students in France, the ambassador said there are less than 10 scholars studying in Paris where the attacks took place, but they are all safe. To keep the embassy and citizens abreast of developments, they have set up a WhatsApp sharing platform wherethrough they communicate.
She could, however, not specify the exact number of Namibians living in France. “We know each and every one is safe. We will, however, call them again to be 100 percent certain that they really fine and safe. I am now in my office to print the list of all Namibians [here in France],” Nangula-Ithete said.
When asked about the terror attacks, she said she was not in Paris at the time the attacks occurred, but said it was very scary. She said the airports have now re-opened, with the exception of Orly International Airport.
Eight of the attackers died after the asault, seven of whom reportedly committed suicide by blowing themselves up.
French President Francois Hollande blamed ISIS for the attacks, declaring three days of national mourning and said military troops would patrol the capital.
France remains in a nationwide state of emergency. The French Embassy in Windhoek is expected to open a book of condolences today.