Namibia: Asylum Seekers Detained in Zambezi

About 53 people from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi are currently detained at the Katima Mulilo Police Station after they entered the country illegally over the past few weeks.

Police inspector general Sebastian Ndeitunga yesterday addressed the group, including 30 minors, who informed him they have fled their homes due to insecurity in their respective countries.

Ndeitunga said Namibia has laws regulating the citizens of the country and citizens of other countries who are visiting, and everyone is expected to abide by such laws.

"Your forefathers are our forefathers, that means we are family. Unfortunately, Africa has been divided into different countries, which changed the freedom of movement from one country to another. Basically it is no longer like it was before colonialism.

"We are now limited and regulated by laws of urban countries, therefore, if you want to go to another African country, you should follow the laws of such country. You were supposed to follow the immigration procedures of Namibia for you not to find yourselves at the police station," he said.

He said it is unfortunate that children also ended up being detained because their parents did not follow the correct procedures for seeking asylum in Namibia.

"Our hope is to see these young ones grow up in a country that has peace, stability, harmony and security. We don't want to see our brothers and sisters suffering on our own African continent. I always pray for peace and security for everyone. Immigration officials will take over your cases . . . If your case is favourable, they will decide to allow you to stay. You have to be patient for now and wait on the government's decision," he said.

The group told Ndeitunga they chose to run off to Namibia because it is a peaceful country, and the way it accepts refugees is commendable.

"We will be safer here because Namibia is far, and the rebels will not follow us here to come and kill us. Normally, when we flee to countries closer, they track us down to kill us and go back easily. We are desperate, that is why we risked entering illegally," one of the asylum seekers said.

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