WINDHOEK – The number of young Namibians seeking asylum or being detained at main immigration centres in the United Kingdom has increased significantly, New Era has learnt.
This has prompted the UK immigration establishing a temporary immigration office at the Hosea Kutako International Airport (HKIA) screening all Namibians travelling to that country.
Through this office, close to 30 young Namibians travelling to the UK were stopped by the immigration officials, New Era was reliably informed this week.
It is understood that those seeking asylum claim to be gay, lesbian, bisexual and political asylum seekers, who supposedly face persecution in Namibia.
Similar claims were advanced by Namibians migrating to Canada a few years ago, until that country’s government later realised the claims held no truth.
Homosexuality is not illegal in Namibia, but sodomy is. The country has no record of prosecution of anyone for being homosexual.
Four young people preparing to seek asylum in the UK who spoke to New Era last week on condition of anonymity said due to lack of jobs in the country, they migrate to developed countries such as the UK, Canada and Germany to seek greener pastures.
“What can we do, there is no jobs for us, we need to work, there is nothing for us young people here,” said one who told New Era he is collecting enough money to either go to Canada or UK.
Contacted for comment, British High Commission in Namibia spokesperson Hans-Christian Mahnke did not deny nor confirm the increase in the number of Namibians flocking to the UK.
“The UK government does not publicly comment on the number of migrants [or] asylum seekers from individual countries,” he said yesterday.
Asked whether it was true that a temporary UK Immigration Office was set up at the Hosea Kutako International Airport, Mahnke said: “The UK government routinely works with partner countries to combat illegal migration – including human trafficking.
We offer a programme of support governments across the world to both build capacity internal and at international borders. Our work in Namibia is therefore no different to that which we undertake in other locations.”
Mahnke also refused to reveal the number of Namibians currently housed by Britain to date, simply saying that “we cannot comment.”
International migration from countries in sub-Saharan Africa has grown dramatically over the past decade including to Europe and the United States. Indeed, since 2010 have witnessed a rising inflow of sub-Saharan asylum applicants in Europe, and lawful permanent residents and refugees in the U.S.
The factors pushing people to leave sub-Saharan Africa and the paths they take to arrive at their destinations – vary from country to country and individual to individual. In the case of Europe, the population of sub-Saharan migrants has been boosted by the influx of nearly 1 million asylum applicants (970,000) between 2010 and 2017, according to a Pew Research Centre analysis of data from Eurostat, Europe’s statistical agency.
Sub-Saharan Africans also moved to European Union countries, Norway and Switzerland as international students and resettled refugees, through family reunification and by other means.
In the U.S., those fleeing conflict also make up a portion of the more than 400,000 sub-Saharan migrants who moved to the States between 2010 and 2016.
According to data from U.S Department of Homeland Security and the U.S State Department, 110,000 individuals from sub-Saharan countries were resettled as refugees over this seven-year period.
An additional 190,000 were granted lawful permanent residence by virtue of family ties; nearly 110,000 more entered the U.S. through the diversity visa program.