WFP appeals for US$630,000 to feed refugees in Namibia

Windhoek- Namibia (PANA) -- The World Food Programme (WFP) office in Namibia is sending an urgent appeal for US$630,000 to feed more than 6, 000 refugees and asylum seekers based at Osire camp from four African countries.
Some 4,700 Angolan refugees at Osire camp are refusing repatriation to home, while others from DR Congo, Rwanda and Burundi are seeking asylum instead of returning home.
WFP country director for Namibia John Prout, on Thursday said the US$630,000 is needed to secure adequate provisions these 6,000 refugees and asylum seekers for this year.
"We had hoped that most refugees would have left Osire, and that WFP support would no longer be required especially as the situation in Angola continued to improve," Prout explained.
Thousands of Angolans, who fled a three-decade civil war in their country are unwilling to voluntarily return home, he noted, saying the refugees are only willing to return to Angola after the conclusion of Angolan national elections, of which no date has been set.
"WFP is hopeful that donors will fully fund this operation but it has become harder and harder to attract sufficient resources for our refugee programmes over the past few years," Prout said.
Meanwhile, news that more than 1,000 refugees, who disappeared from Ngweshi refugee camp in Zambia fearing repatriation are now in Namibia, is likely to worsen the refugee problem in the country.
"The Rwandans and Angolans are still here and remain a challenge," said Marjon Kamara, director of UNHCR's regional bureau for Africa.
Kamara said that some refugees have expressed fear they might be persecuted upon return whilst others "fear their kids may not be in school because of dilapidated infrastructure".
The Angolans who disappeared in Zambia, on the eve of their repatriation, are reported to be in Namibia's eastern region of Caprivi, having trekked all the way from neighbouring Zambia.
Namibia's refugee commissioner, Nkhrumah Mushelenga Tuesday appealed to the refugees to hand themselves to authorities or risk being treated as 'illegal immigrants'.
"There are women and children and they are running.
we do not know how they are surviving," Mushelenga said.
"They will be treated as illegal immigrants if they settle without proper authorisation," he added.

01 february 2007 09:31:00

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