A group of about 400 Namibian refugees and ‘struggle kids’ repatriated during 1989 in terms of the United Nations resolution 435 of 1978 claims the UN has only dumped them in the country without resettling them accordingly. The aggrieved group marched to the UN House this week in the capital to hand over its petition. The group claims that under normal circumstances, the UN is supposed to have appointed someone to monitor and evaluate programmes of repatriation, resettlement, and rehabilitation. Of the three, only the repatriation programme was done and the others were never implemented in Namibia.
“So what happened to the money that was budgeted for resettlement and rehabilitation? We want to know what happened to the money and why they were never implemented,” reads part of the petition read by group representative Tuulimoupyu Kakolonyah. In the petition, the refugees charge that since the UN has failed them in implementing the two programmes, it is only reasonable that the UN gives back the money that was initially budgeted for these programmes. The petition highlights reasons why the refugees cannot afford to resettle themselves, such as that they spent most of their youth in exile during the liberation struggle without formal education, and on arrival back home, many were too old to work. They also charge that even those who were still young were employed in lowly paid jobs earning salaries too small to sustain them.
Some of the former Namibian refugees were seriously injured during the course and could not equally qualify for employment. “The UN only dumped us in the country without taking proper care for us. Or, was the R10, axe, hoe, single mattress, a grey blanket, a pot without a lid, 1kg of brown beans and 750ml of cooking oil enough to resettle the Namibian refugee?” asked Kakolonyah. While it is only 26 years later that the group it now taking a stand, they maintained that it was not their wish but under the spirit of Harambee, they feel they are also entitled to eat and enjoy independence.
“We are not interested in farms and all that because we were outside and committed to this country. So coming back, we have to resettle in the country.It is because of the failure of the resettlement programme of the refugees that we today have the problem with the struggle kids. We are international refugees and we have to be rehabilitated and resettled. Most of our members do not have houses so where do we go.Why should we even march? All of us want to eat. We have children,” said group spokesperson Ueshitile Shekupe. UN representative Jean-Pierre Ilboudo received the petition on behalf of country representative Kiki Gbeho. The group gave the UN an ultimatum to respond to the petition within 14 days.