The Namibian (Windhoek)

Namibia: Life-Saving Operation for Burundi Refugee

THE United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR) in Namibia, along with the Norwegian government, have reached out to a Burundi family desperately in search of life-saving medical treatment for their son.

The Rusake family are refugees from the Burundian civil war who have been living at the Osire refugee camp since fleeing to Namibia in 2002.

"When I found out nine months ago that my baby was not well, I went from hospital to hospital searching for help. When he worsened and medical staff could no longer do anything more, I approached the UNHCR in November last year," said Lydia Niyonsaba, the mother of two-year old Simon Rusake.

Simon suffers from congenital heart disease, a heart problem present from birth that impairs blood circulation throughout the body and causes severe swelling in parts of his body. His condition was so severe that he was unable to eat at one stage. Fortunately, the Katutura State Hospital staff was able to treat him to the extent that he was able to eat again. However, Simon's heart condition did not better.

"We are grateful to the Katutura Hospital staff who helped where they could. We are also grateful to the Namibian government for their hospitality towards refugees. Namibia's treatment of refugees cannot be compared with other African countries, surely it is the best in terms of providing security, food and hospitality," said the UNHCR representative in Namibia, Lawrence Mgbangson.

Mgbangson approached several organisations for assistance and finally received help from the Norwegian government.

"Simon's case has drawn international attention, with several countries and organisations assisting where they could. Finally, we received help from the Norway government who will assist Simon's operation and grant the Rusake family residency," said Mgbangson.

"This operation has been long awaited and we can only thank God and everyone who helped us in our time of need," said Simon's father, Bertrand Rusake.

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