Namibia to regularise statelessness: Kawana

Published: 24/Sep/2023
Source: Namibia Press Agency (NAMPA)

WINDHOEK, 24 SEP (NAMPA) – Home Affairs, Immigration, Safety and Security Minister Albert Kawana has said that his ministry is drafting a bill aimed at preventing statelessness and regularising the status of specified categories of stateless and undocumented persons.

Speaking during the belated commemoration of International Identity Day here on Friday, Kawana said he will table the bill in parliament with the aim of regularising statelessness in Namibia.“It is my sincere hope that these important instruments will be enacted for the betterment of the lives of those affected,” he said.

There are about 141 080 undocumented and stateless people in Namibia.

This number represents the total number of people who consider themselves to be stateless or undocumented and who came forward during a registration exercise conducted by the home affairs ministry in conjunction with local and regional government structures, according to Kawana.

“We acknowledge that Namibia, like many other countries in the world, is faced with the challenge of statelessness and undocumented persons. Equally, we recognise that we have an obligation to reduce statelessness in our country by ensuring that those affected exercise their right to identity, travel documents, and administrative assistance. For this reason, the Namibian Government is taking steps to reduce statelessness by regularising the status of stateless and undocumented persons through enabling legislation,” the minister said.

International Identity Day is marked annually on 16 September and was observed under the theme ‘Ending statelessness for social progression’, with Kawana saying the theme resonates with the government’s commitment to reducing statelessness.

He noted that the day “provides an opportunity for us to reflect, not only on the state of statelessness in Namibia but, most importantly, on the effectiveness of the various interventions made by the government to reduce statelessness in our country.”

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees indicated that millions of people around the world are without national identities and often denied opportunities to access basic services such as education and medical care.

Kawana said his ministry has established offices countrywide for the issuance of birth certificates and identity documents.

“In addition, the ministry undertakes outreach programmes to remote, hard-to-reach areas, taking services to those who do not have access to the designated registration centres,” he said.

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Themes: Statelessness
Regions: Namibia
Year: 2023