Undocumented migrants deprived of benefits

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Loide Jason

Okalongo-About 1,080 residents of Okalongo in Omusati Region do not have national documents, among them elderly people who were born in neighbouring Angola but have lived in Namibia for decades after fleeing the civil war in that country.

One of those affected is Rosalia Kaukolelwa, who came to Namibia in 1958 when she was a three-month-old baby. Gisel Shilongo came to Namibia when she was three years old in 1960, while another resident of Shangalala village migrated to Namibia in 1966, when she was a young girl.

Okalongo Constituency Councillor Makana Iipinge is concerned about these undocumented residents who are unable to draw monthly pension or disability grants,or get jobs due to not having a national identity document.

“This situation is disturbing, seeing the elderly people only survive from drought relief food, while they qualify for social grants. Seeing the children suffer while the government made efforts to help them financially, it is indeed disturbing,” the councillor said.

He said many of the residents who do not have documents were born in Angola before independence and came to Namibia with their parents while they were very young, including babies.

“These people then got married here and started families, now the whole younger generation is affected as well. From grandmother to the great grandchildren, all these people do not have documents. This is serious,” he said.

He said the younger generation are now in school and when they reach Grade 10 they are asked to provide a birth certificate as one of the requirements to sit for the national examinations.

He pointed out that the number is likely to increase because there is a high pregnancy rate in the area.

Iipinge said some have also lost their national documents due to negligence but the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration is slow in issuing them with duplicates.

New Era spoke to Gisel Shilongo who is the head of a family of 13 people. None of them has any Namibian national document because of their Angolan lineage.

She said although her parents are Namibians she was unable to secure national documents from the home affairs ministry.

“All my six children and my seven grandchildren do not have documents because I do not have. My eldest child is 32 and my last is 16 years old. They all do not have,” she said.
She said they approached home affairs but did not get any satisfactory response.

Sources in the ministry in the Omusati Region said they are aware of the situation but the ministry is now planning to build a sub-regional office at Okalongo to remedy such cases.

They said the regional offices have also proposed to take outreach programmes to Okalongo every month but due to a lack of funds this cannot be done.

Home affairs spokesperson Sacky Kadhikwa said although the figure is disturbing the ministry treats every situation on its merits.

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