The number of Angolan refugees camping at Etunda in the Omusati region has dwindled in recent days after they heard of talks to relocate them to safer ground. The migrants have moved to other parts of the region in search of jobs to harvest and thresh mahangu.
Governor of Omusati, Erginus Endjala said the number of the remaining migrants is in the process of being established, but confirmed that some have moved away from the camp.
According to him, the migrants fear that once moved, they would be quarantined and deported to their home country. At the moment, the migrants camp under a tree next to the road. Although a decision to relocate them has not been taken yet, there are talks to relocate them to safer grounds while they wait for a permanent decision from their government.
“The number has been decreasing as some have been sneaking out at night to other parts of the region,” said Endjala. Meanwhile, there are over 400 families and over 2 000 migrants that were registered upon arrival at Etunda. The refugees, in the last meeting with a visiting Angolan delegation, expressed mixed feelings about going home.
While some were ready to pack their bags, others were sceptical, fearing that they might be exposed to much harsher situations than what they face in Namibia. As a result, some pleaded with the Angolan government to allow them to stay in Namibia until the next rainy season.
Although a final decision has not been taken yet, the delegation proposed at the meeting that the migrants be taken to a camp in Angola, where their government will commit to taking care of them until the next rainy season. With the cold wind sweeping in, a caretaker at the camp said the migrants were each given a blanket to shield themselves. The migrants have been arriving in the country since March in search of food.