Government has this year resettled 225 recognised refugees in third countries.
This means the Namibian government has asked other countries – known as third countries – to take in refugees and asylum seekers who cannot be accommodated in Namibia for various reasons, Minister of Home Affairs and Immigration Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana revealed this week.
Speaking at Osire Refugee Camp on World Refugee Day, Iivula-Ithana said some refugees cannot go back to their countries of origin, citing persecution.
“Some of the refugees have specific needs that cannot be addressed in the country of asylum,” she added. She said in such circumstances, the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) helps find settlement for such refugees in third countries, as the only safe and viable durable solution.
Iivula-Ithana commended several countries, particularly those who continue to host refugees and asylum seekers and provide humanitarian assistances, while at the same time keeping their borders open to refugees.
“It is time to give greater recognition and support to those states that host the world’s refugees,” she said.
“Namibia guarantees the basic human rights and physical security of refugees and has dedicated a piece of land for the protection and care for refugees and asylum seekers in the Republic of Namibia (Osire settlement),” she added.
She said the government also established a police station in Osire Settlement with the sole purpose of ensuring the maintenance of law and order within the settlement and its surrounding areas.
“In order to ensure sustainable justice and fairness for all, we have by law established two transparent and accountable statutory bodies,” she said.
She said there is a good working relationship between the government and non-governmental organisations, such as the Red Cross Society and others in ensuring the wellbeing of refugees.
“Our staff works alongside other partners to promote and provide legal and physical protection and to minimise the threat of violence, including sexual assault, which many refugees are subjected to in many countries of asylum,” she added.
“We stand together with refugees,” she reiterated, adding that the government treats refugees and asylum seekers like any other citizen. They enjoy the same quality of medical treatment as Namibians, including ARV treatment, without any discrimination.
“It is a known fact that food insecurity, poor nutrition and the incidence and severity of HIV infection are associated with each other in complex ways,” she noted.
She further said, given that many refugees depend on external assistance for nutrition, health and other basic needs, refugee settings provide unique opportunities to implement tailor-made interventions to mitigate the effects and prevent the spread of HIV.