WINDHOEK- Despite government’s effort to ensure refugees at Osire Refugee Camp have access to health and social services, it has emerged some of the refugees are influenced by so-called ‘pastors’ who have established “small churches’ at the settlement not to accept certain medication or seek treatment.
This came to light after a Parliamentary Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Security undertook a fact-finding mission to Osire refugee settlement, regional and sub-regional offices of the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration in Omaheke, //Kharas and Hardap regions recently.
The report of the committee whose chairperson is Levy Katoma was tabled in the National Assembly last week which contained numerous shortcomings including that of pastors influencing refugees not to take their medication.
The report shockingly reveals that some pregnant women get locked up during the day, citing that it is a culture from their home countries.
At the time of the committee’s visit, there were approximately 4 822 refugees and 2 605 asylum seekers.
Majority of the refugees and asylum seekers are from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Burundi and Zimbabwe.
The parliamentarians found that many refugees from DRC always demand a particular medication from the nursing personnel at the clinic. However, the committee was informed that they refuse to take Panado tablets, saying they do not trust the medication provided to them.
Hence, these refugees discard these tablets.
The parliamentarians also discovered that some of the refugees and asylum seekers have certain beliefs and religions with regards to health treatment offered to them.
“They are influenced by so-called ‘pastors’ who have established ‘small churches’ at the settlement not to accept certain medication or health treatment. The committee was informed that there are about 32 churches at Osire,” the report indicated.
Other health challenges the committee found is that there were incidences of children drinking paraffin as adults do not store paraffin in the required safe places.
The parliamentarians stated that sexually transmitted infections are increasing and there is a lack of use of condoms, especially among some Congolese nationals.
Another challenge the committee found is that there are no translators at the clinic, making communication with refugees and asylum seekers very difficult.
The settlement also lacks cleaning materials, no bulbs, and power outage is a regular occurrence.
As a result, vaccination at the clinic gets spoiled.
The only power generator available at the settlement was provided by The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in 2016. Since then, the Ministry of Health and Social Services did not provide fuel for it.
Another issue identified is the financial constraints which hamper the provision of shelter to all refugees and asylum seekers. Building materials are also needed to build more shelters, while slow and sometimes non-disbursements of food from UNHCR is another challenge.
Accommodation of officials and staff of the government including accommodation for teachers are serious concerns at Osire, which the commit say need urgent intervention of the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration and Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture.
Teachers also do not have adequate accommodation.
According to the parliamentarians, the Namibian police informed them that stock theft, illegal hunting, trespassing on commercial and communal farms to collect firewood and illegal employment of refugees and asylum seekers by farmers are main criminal activities at Osire.
“The Namibian police expressed their disappointment with regard to respect of and compliance with the rule of law and the national laws by some refugees,” the report shows.
The committee suggested that a cleaner and a labourer should be employed at the clinic as their services are needed.
On a positive light, it was found children at Osire are attending school.
Osire refugee settlement was established in 1992, at the time of the civil war in Angola. Approximately 2 000 refugees from Angola were then housed at the settlement.
After the civil war, it was expected that the refugees would have returned to their country of origin.
Angolan nationals were profiled and they are known as there are still many at the camp.
Currently, refugees are issued with brown passports normally issued for ‘stateless person’.
2019-06-25 09:26:42 24 days ago