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1 300 Namibians seek UK refuge

2023-03-17  Edward Mumbuu

1 300 Namibians seek UK refuge

The United Kingdom is in the process of changing Namibia’s status due to the purported abuse of its asylum and other immigration laws, New Era has been reliably informed. 

If Namibians want to visit the UK as tourists, they currently do not need to apply for visas. But this could soon change, as some unscrupulous individuals stand accused of exploiting the status quo. Responding to questions this week, British High Commissioner to Namibia Charles Moore said reviews by his government are continuous.  “The United Kingdom regularly reviews the list of countries and territories whose nationals require a visa to enter or transit the UK,” he stated. 

Such reviews consider a wide range of factors, including the overall number of visitors, abuse of UK immigration laws,
and the number of nationals claiming
asylum on arrival in the UK.  

“No announcement has been made on changes to the visa status of Namibia or any other country in 2023,” the diplomat said. 

In February, over 90% of Namibians seeking asylum in the UK were rejected, while 1 200 applications were pending for assessment. 

Asked if Namibians have valid grounds to seek asylum in the UK, Moore retorted: “Asylum in the UK provides sanctuary for those unable to live safely in any part of their own country due to a fear of persecution, with all applications assessed against a comprehensive set of criteria.” Last year, he complained about selfish Namibians who are abusing the non-visa entry requirement to seek asylum in the UK, to the detriment of legitimate asylum-seekers from war-torn nations or those fleeing distress.





“Asylum should be for people fleeing persecution, war and conflicts and famine, and that sort of thing. It is not for people who are going into the UK, get a job and stay for longer. Unfortunately, that’s what we’ve seen happening. “Personally, I don’t think that’s right. It’s rather selfish because it also blocks the asylum system, which is there to assist people who are in real distress,” he stated at the time.  Namibians need visas if they are going to work or study longer than three months in the UK, the current rules dictate. 

“All Namibian nationals currently require a visa to live, work or study in the UK. At present, there is no requirement for Namibian nationals to obtain a visa to visit the UK, but entry into the UK is not guaranteed. As in Namibia, permission to enter will be decided by the immigration officer on arrival,” the high commissioner added. 



Over the years, Namibians have been accused of seeking asylum in countries such as the UK and Canada under false pretence. 

Reasons are forwarded such as abuse, purported wanton abuse of gay rights, or lack of opportunities for people with disabilities. 

However, Moore refused to delve into the specifics.  “The UK does not publish data concerning the reasons for claiming (or granting) asylum to protect the identity of all asylum applicants. The granting of asylum may not be for the reason originally claimed, but may be based on a change of circumstances of the applicant (health or family) during the period between their arrival and the outcome of their application, which could be many months,” he said.   

Between 2008 and 2021, there were 1 319 asylum claims made by Namibian nationals. 

Of this figure, 1 163 claims have been made since 2017.  Only 138 Namibians were successfully granted asylum statuses during this period.  In addition, at least a further 800 asylum claims were made during 2022, with those applications still pending.  

Namibia is currently in the throes of a full-blown moral panic over LGBTQ rights. 

The government’s top lawyer, Festus Mbandeka, is in court and fighting against the decriminalisation of the sodomy law. 

It is the government’s position that “homosexual conduct is immoral and unacceptable. I deny that the mere existence of the sodomy law promotes the stigmatisation of gay men. If these men suffer any stigma, it is in consequence of their choice to engage in sexual conduct considered to be morally taboo in our society.”

Last year, a group of 198 Namibians through the office of Katutura Central constituency councillor Rodman Katjaimo organised a trip to the United Kingdom to attend the Birmingham Commonwealth Games.  The trip later failed, as participants failed to meet certain requirements. It then also turned out that the trip could have been a decoy, with asylum-seeking being the chief objective of some participants, who had no reason to return to Namibia. 

When put to Moore whether the botched trip in any way now affects how Namibians travelling or intending to travel to the UK are treated, he said: “No. The group was denied boarding by the airlines, and not by UK immigration officials, after insufficient time had been made available for pre-flight passenger screening of the group.”

Moreover, it is an open secret that the UK needs people who can do manual work, while Namibia on the other hand has an unemployment challenge.  Back in the 1990s and early 2000s, the UK had a two-year working holiday programme. Through this initiative, Namibians flocked to the UK. 

That programme, however, has since ceased.  “The working holidaymaker scheme was stopped in 2005 due to an unsustainable rise
in demand from across the world,” Moore noted.  


Asylum dilemma

In 2022, the UK received more than 74 700 asylum applications, the highest number for 20 years. Of these, more than 23 800 people and their dependents were granted a form of protection. The UK has courted controversy in recent years over its hardline stance on asylum-seekers.  UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is clamping down on such an influx. Nearly 46 000 refugees and migrants arrived in the United Kingdom last year on small boats across the English Channel, a major increase from the year before.  Sunak has made stopping the boats a top priority for the British people. But both the United Nations and the European Union have called the plan illegal for the way it would treat people fleeing war and persecution.  Even his Home Secretary Suella Braverman, it is reported, has acknowledged that the plan may not be compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

According to reports, more than 45 000 asylum-seekers are currently being housed in hotels across the UK, at a cost of over  £6 million per day.

2023-03-17  Edward Mumbuu

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