Destitute Angolan immigrants starving at Outapi

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Nuusita Ashipala

Outapi-Starving illegal immigrants from oil-rich Angola have resorted to eating porridge with plain water as soup after they failed to secure odd jobs with the local community in Outapi.

Angola is Africa’s second largest oil producer but proceeds from this God-given endowment seems to benefit only a few fat-cats and its ruling elite while the majority languish in poverty. It is one of the countries that have been hard hit by the fall in oil prices. Its once booming construction sector has ground to a screeching halt with construction companies having difficulties paying their workers. The Angolan migrants, who recently flocked to Outapi in search of greener pastures, include mothers and their babies and young children. They have descended on Namibian’s northern town seeking for jobs in order to sustain themselves, but due to erratic rains this year they have not been so fortunate as jobs are very scarce here.

“The farmers here are saying there is no work in their fields because there has not been sufficient rain,” said one Angolan illegal immigrant who declined to be named. The immigrants said while they are at liberty to share their life stories, they are not at liberty to share their identities.

“But obviously we are Angolans,” said one immigrant. The majority on the site adjacent to Extension 9 and not too far from the Outapi District Hospital are women and there are at least 10 babies and 10 school-going children at the campsite.

These illegal immigrants work in mahangu fields in the communal houses around Outapi.
In exchange, they are given money, clothes and sometimes food or whatever their temporary masters have to offer.
Apart from doing odd jobs, some of them are taking care of their families hospitalised at the Outapi District Hospital.

Previously, the immigrants camped alongside expectant mothers who have since been provided with a temporary shelter within the hospital premises by the Development Bank of Namibia (DBN).

New Era visited the area just about lunch time and each group under the tree had prepared its own thick porridge, which they ate with plain water as soup. There are at least four trees under whose shade these illegal immigrants seek shelter.

While one group was eating from a pot, another group had their porridge served in a plastic bag, which they said they would eat on their way when they trek back to their oil-rich country.

Members of this particular group had already packed up their camping tents and were ready to travel back. “We have been here since last week Tuesday, but since there are no jobs here, we will be footing back home today because we do not have money to pay for transport,” related one immigrant. One of the mothers said they bring the younger children along so that they can take care of the babies while they go and look for jobs in the millet fields in Namibia. Unlike in the past years, their coming to Namibia has been unpleasant as there are no jobs and appeals to the Namibian government come to their rescue.

“Returning home will not take away the hunger, it only means that we will only starve to death. Our government has not done anything for us and that is why we are crossing illegally into Namibia,” lamented one of the immigrants.
They, however, applauded the Namibian people, especially those in Omusati where they always flock for providing them with an income over the years. “And we see that even our Namibian counterparts are affected this year.  The question is where do we turn to now,” remarked one of the elderly immigrants. Namibia usually treats Angolan illegal immigrants with kids’ gloves because of the role that country played to accommodate Swapo as a liberation movement.

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