Angolan refugees return home

06 January 2022 | International

TUYEIMO HAIDULA

OSHAKATI

Close to 4 000 Angolan refugees living at Etunda in the Omusati region started returning home on Monday. The group had arrived in Namibia in March 2021, fleeing hunger in their county.

They will be transported in groups of 47 per bus. Six buses will transport the people, doing two trips daily. They will be temporarily housed at a shelter at the Cunene province in Angola until they can return to their homes.

When they crossed the border into Namibia, they said they were starving at home.

Distrust

Cunene provincial governor Gerdina Ulipamwe Didalelwa travelled to Namibia in May 2021 and asked the refugees to return to Angola so that their government could take care of them.

They refused to return before there had been enough rain to cultivate their fields. They said they did not believe their government would keep its word and offer assistance.

Aznaida Caetano, deputy consul at Oshakati, represented the Angolan government on Tuesday at the Etunda Elcin Centre where the Namibian government was housing the refugees.

Omusati governor Erginus Endjala told Namibian Sun in a telephonic interview that he had visited the camp three times to persuade the Angolans to return home.

“Today when the buses arrived, everyone was ready to go. It is a continuous process until Friday or Saturday,” he said.

Humanitarian aid

Back at the camp, Endjala told those in attendance that it was on 23 February 2021 when the regional government received word that some Angolan refugees in a weak condition had turned up in the Etunda and Oshifo area.

After an assessment verified that they urgently needed food aid, the region saw an influx of large numbers of Angolans.

“We have been receiving humanitarian assistance from individuals, private entities and from the Namibian government through the Office of the Prime Minister. Today (Tuesday) we are here to say goodbye to our brothers and sisters who have been living in this centre for almost 11 months,” he said.

Endjala applauded the Angolan government for facilitating the repatriation. He said it is always difficult to provide humanitarian assistance from another country.

“The repatriation of brothers and sisters creates the opportunity for them to receive proper attention and reintegrate with their loved ones back home.

“We know the process will not be easy but through the cooperation between the two governments we will overcome those challenges,” he said

The governor added that 73 Angolan children born in Namibia since March last year have all received birth certificates and were baptised on Sunday.

Endjala said malnutrition was rife among refugee children under four years old, and at least 18 of them died.

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