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By: Andrew Kathindi

The number of asylum seekers and refugees in Namibia continues to increase, the ministry of home affairs, safety and security have revealed, with most fleeing persecution.

“Mostly, it’s based on the reasoning that they are fearing to be persecuted,” the ministry of home affairs, public relations officer, Sakeus Kadhikwa, told The Villager.
Namibia currently has 8,919 asylum seekers and refugees in Namibia. Of these, 7,500 are active, while 1,419 are inactive.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, this number had nearly quadrupled since 2015 when, as of February 2015, Namibia hosted 2,603refugees and asylum-seekers.
At the time, about 1,742 former Angolan refugees were still awaiting documentation regarding their local integration in Namibia.

Of the 8,919 refugees and asylum seekers in the country, 5,546 registered refugees from DRC, 2,587 are women, while 2,959 are men.
Four hundred thirty-nine from Burundi, 181 women, 258 are men. From Rwanda, 151 refugees in Namibia are 86 men and 65 women.
Active refugees are those who participated in the verification exercise conducted in 2021, while those identified as inactive did not turn up.

For those that are inactive, “It’s either that they are no longer under the Namibian jurisdiction or they moved from being asylum seekers into other categories. Hence they did not participate in the exercise.”
This comes as the ministry has named the new look identification card for refugees as “African Guest Identity Cards.”
Kadhikwasaid that the naming of the new African Guest Identity card is in the spirit of Pan-Africanism.

“Namibia views African brothers and sisters who seek asylum here as guests and their stay here is temporary and they will return to their countries of origin when the reasons that made them fell in the first place cease to exist.”
The new-look identity documents come with a new layout for citizens, permanent residents and refugees, with enhanced security features embedded in a chip on the card.

The printing of the new IDs for refugees will only materialize after the amendment of the Namibian refugees’ recognition and control regulations.
The new African Guest IDs will only be issued to recognized refugees in Namibia and not every person seeking refuge or asylum.

“An asylum seeker, in general, is designated to someone seeking international protection. This person has applied for refugee status and has not yet received a final decision on their case. Not every asylum seeker will automatically be recognized as a refugee,” Kadhikwa said.

On the other hand, a refugee has fled their country of origin and is unwilling to return because of a well-founded fear of being persecuted because of their race, nationality, religion, or political opinion has been granted refugee status in the country.
Osire, situated 113 Km from Otjiwarongo, is the only refugee settlement in the country.
A centre established the home affairs ministry in Katima Mulilo, which serves as the first registration point for asylum seekers.
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