More than 7 000 illegal Angolan immigrants are currently camping at various sites in the region due to food insecurity in Namibia, Omusati governor Erginus Endjala says.
Conversing with The Namibian yesterday, Endjala said that the Angolan and Namibian governments are currently in talks to ease travel restrictions between the two countries to allow Angolan nationals to enter Namibia without constraints as part of the solution.
The governor told The Namibian that Namibia and Angola are also looking into other solutions to the humanitarian crisis to avoid the further loss of life due to severe hunger and thirst.
The governor met with Jovelina Costa, Angola’s ambassador to Namibia, last week when she undertook a visit to the common borders, including the Oshikango and Omahenene border posts, to acquaint herself with the procedures and challenges faced by Angolan immigrants.
“The two governments are looking at opening up all the common borders that we share with Angola to allow Angolan nationals who are seeking humanitarian assistance in Namibia to enter the country through legal means . . .
“Angolan nationals are flocking to Namibia because of hunger, and as such we should not turn them away or close borders on them . . . we need to assist them where we can,” he says.
Endjala says the Angolan government is also planning to transport all illegal immigrants back to their country, but this can only be done once the Angolan government has remedies in place to ensure food security for these individuals.
According to The Namibian, the spike in the number of illegal, hungry Angolan immigrants flocking to Namibia comes amid the Covid-19 pandemic ravaging Namibia’s economy.
So far, the Office of the Prime Minister has donated a total of 500 bags of maize meal and 2 000 cans of tinned fish to the illegal immigrants in the Omusati and Ohangwena regions.
“Our government is trying by all means to assist these people, but you must remember as countries we are also busy fighting the Covid-19 pandemic . . . We will try to assist them with the little we have.
“The Angolan government has also promised to provide them with food and shelter,” Endjala says.
He says Namibian nationals recruiting illegal Angolan immigrants as either domestic workers or cattle herders must first obtain a greencard from the Angolan consulate at Oshakati to avoid being prosecuted for human trafficking.
He says the greencard identifies employers and allows Angolan nationals to stay in the country without being arrested or deported.
“We must also remember these people are in the country due to a humanitarian crisis. We must not take advantage of them, because some of them are minors. We must assist them, but we must not take advantage of their current situation,” Endjala says.
Widespread hunger as a result of persistent drought is pushing Angolans to Namibia in search of greener pastures.
Culled from The Namibian