Windhoek-Chairperson of the Namibia Refugees Repatriated group (NRR) Ueshitile Shekupe on Wednesday rubbished a statement made by Veterans Affairs permanent secretary Hopelong Ipinge.
Ipinge earlier said it was a lie that the United Nations would pay out millions of dollars it owed to war veterans as the NRR claimed.
Shekupe and Tito Kamanya, a legal advisor for the group, responded angrily to the article published by New Era quoting Ipinge.
NRR has invited the country’s war veterans to register themselves to receive millions purportedly owed to them by the UN, but in the article Ipinge dismissed the NRR claims as lies.
“The leader of Namibian refugees went on radio calling all registered Veterans of the National Liberation Struggle to report themselves with their repatriation forms in Ongwediva, Oshana region as from the 1st of July 2017.
“This was to register so they could benefit from millions of dollars owed to them as former freedom fighters by the United Nations,” Ipinge, a former ambassador said.
Kamanya and Shekupe rejected Ipinge’s statement, saying they were not registering veterans for UN benefits worth millions of dollars.
They said they were simply carrying out a request from the UN to present data on how many refugees the UN ought to be responsible for.
“We are simply registering refugees who were brought to Namibia by the UN after independence that the UN was supposed to integrate into the social and economic mainstream, but failed to do.
“We did not promise anyone any millions, because the UN does not owe anyone, and we therefore dismiss that point.
“We further demand respect from Ipinge because we are a people’s group, representing the needs of the refugees and we want to do just that,” thundered a visibly upset Shekupe.
Leaders of the NRR argue they have “the interest of the refugees dumped into Namibia from exile by the UN at heart.
“They were neglected and we simply want the UN to account for this, and that is the only registration we are conducting from 1 July to know how many people there are,” they said.
However, Veterans Affairs spokesperson Edson Haufiku said the department stands by its statement that the group is misleading veterans.
He noted that if the United Nations had given such information it would be disseminated through government or the office of the permanent secretary of Veterans Affairs or the Namibia National Liberation Veterans Association (NNVLA).
“If it is database information needed by UN as they say, information is available at the Ministry of Home Affairs and the UN could easily request it from government,” the veteran affairs spokesperson added.
Veterans Affairs also distanced itself from what it says is an unrecognised group spreading these mischievous untruths.
“Their strange intentions are not in the interest of the Namibian government and the plight of the veterans of the liberation struggle,” Haufiku said, and cautioned veterans not to fall prey to the group’s antics.