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Politics | Human rights

Namibia dumps "misbehaving" orphans in the bush

Group of Namibian liberation war orphans dumped to live under a tree

© Phil ya Nangoloh/NamRights/afrol News
afrol News, 27 September
- Between 60 and 100 orphaned "'children of the liberation struggle" in August were expelled from a government training camp for "misbehaviour" and dumped in the bush. There, they still live under a tree without any assistance.

The youths had been living at the state youth camp "Berg Aukas" together with almost 300 other young Namibians orphaned by the liberation war that led up to Namibia's independence in 1990. Here, they received shelter and training to qualify for possible state jobs, in particular within the army and police.

On 20 August, however, at least 60, maybe up to 100, orphaned youths were expelled from the Berg Aukas camp, according to the national human rights group NamRights.

"Close to 30 of the affected orphans - 10 females and 20 males - aged between 21 and 35 years, have been living under a tree at a flood relocation center at Ekuku village" ever since, NamRights reports. Here, they had been "dropped and dumped by the Ministry of Defence."

NamRights documents how the expelled youths are given no support at all by government. "They urgently need decent shelter in the form of a tent or tents, decent ablution facilities, food and water as well as sanitary items for especially the female orphans," Phil ya Nangoloh from NamRights appeals.

The Windhoek government confirms that the orphans were expelled and do not receive any government support. Peingeondjabi Shipoh at the Windhoek Youth Ministry told the independent daily 'The Namibian' that government had "washed its hands" on these youth. "They are totally off. Where they are now, they are not under our care," confirmed Mr Shipoh.

As the case is becoming known in the Namibian public, a loud discussion into the reason behind the expulsion and government responsibility for its liberation war orphans is brewing up.

Mr Shipoh claims the youths were told

NamRights has provided the Namibian liberation war orphans with some basic goods

© Phil ya Nangoloh/NamRights/afrol News
to behave properly, "and they did not want to do so." As the Berg Aukas camp was a recruitment base for the army and police, seeking people that later "will be handling guns," it would be irresponsible to keep on these "undisciplined" youngsters, he explained.

However, both NamRights and the Namibian press have indicated there were other reasons behind the mass expulsion. The orphans have explained that they were organising a protest march against what they saw as "corrupt" recruitment methods at the camp.

At the last police and army recruitment action at the camp, the youths claim, people with special family contacts and even some "not standing on any list" were given jobs. As a reaction, a group of orphans had organised protest marches with the view to pressurise government to finally give them jobs.

According to NamRights, government treatment of those orphaned by the liberation war is scandalous. "At least 22 of the 60 orphans that were expelled from Berg Aukas have no personal identity documents. This is more than 20 years after Namibian independence on 21 March 1990," the rights group says.

"As a human rights organisation we demand that these orphans must be given monthly subvention of N$ 2,500 [euro 265] or more, just like any other former SWAPO war veterans in this country. We find it totally unacceptable for the administration to claim that there is no money in state coffers to cater for these and other destitute citizens," NamRights adds.

Meanwhile, the organisation appeals for national and international donor funds to assist the group of orphans, still sleeping under a tree in Ekuku.

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