THE Namibian and Angolan governments should meet urgently to find a solution for the growing number of drought refugees that have been streaming into Namibia for weeks.
Eliaser Nghipangelwa, the former Mayor of Helao Nafidi said that there has never been a situation like this before.
“We have never seen so many Angolans flocking into Namibia before. This is a serious matter and indicates that something is seriously wrong on the other side of the border,” he said.
According to Nghipangelwa, it is not uncommon to find entire families of refugees sitting under the trees in the area of Oshikango.
“When we approach them they are quick t reveal that they are looking for work,” Nghipangelwa said.
He indicated that the number of people from Angolan currently in Namibia is almost uncountable and it is easy to think that people are fleeing from hunger and starvation. He added that the current migration might also be the result of something else brewing across the border.
Nghipangelwa was of the opinion that the people flocking across the border should be treated as refugees of starvation.
“There is no shortage of space to properly process and accommodate the people that come across the border,” he said.
Nghipangelwa said that the Angolan Government should come to the table and at least lift their silence about the unfolding tragedy.
”It is very difficult to see how these people are suffering. It is a serious matter and the Angolan and Namibian governments need to sit down and urgently find a solution for the problem,” he said.
According to Nghipangelwa, some of the people have already been deported and taken back to Angola but they keep coming back to try and find work in Namibia.
He explained that many of the Angolans are employed in Namibia as either cattle herders or workers in crop fields while many of their children attend school in Namibia.
Nghipangelwa said that many of the refugees do not even know about the fact that they need work permits to work in Namibia. He was of the opinion that most of the refugees cannot afford to even apply for work permits and all of them are too scared to enter a government office door.
“The Namibian government should at least try and introduce a temporary permit to Angolans that come to Namibia as domestic workers,” he said.
In the meantime, traditional headmen of villages started to count the number of Angolans who are already employed as domestic workers.
Nghipangelwa felt that these rudimentary statistics can form a good starting point for authorities to work from to see how best the refugees can best be assisted.