Namibia clarifies efforts to address Angolan street children

Penda Naanda

Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation executive director Penda Naanda said the messages circulating on social media alleging that the government of Namibia is not addressing the issue of children from Angola are devoid of any truth and are intended to mislead the Namibian public.

He said this in a press release on Friday.

Thus far, 18 children have been repatriated on the respective dates of 12 June and 6 October last year, while four children are currently housed at the Namibia Children’s Home in Windhoek, he said.

“The relationship between Namibia and Angola is based on long-standing bonds of friendship, solidarity and supreme sacrifices that are characterised by warm and excellent bilateral relations between the two nations,” he said.

He added that the two nations are guided by the existing relationships when addressing common challenges such as that of the Angolan children.

Namibia and Angola are in regular contact regarding the issue of the children and have taken concerted efforts in accordance with their obligation under international law to find a permanent solution for the affected children, he said.

Shedding light on the same issue, Angolan ambassador to Namibia Jovelina Imperial e Costa blamed the devastating effects of climate change in southern Angola as a contributing factor for the Angolan children’s predicament in Namibia.

The embassy released a statement on Friday after it was informed about the children.

“The Angolan government has been implementing a broad investment programme to mitigate the impact of the drought combined with financial support for families and credits to agricultural and livestock cooperatives,” the statement read.

All the initiatives are aimed at ensuring the well-being of the population.

Furthermore, the statement noted that the Angolan government defends the rights and protection of children and it is signatory to relevant international commitments that protect children.

“Internally, Angola is committed to the implementation of the 11 commitments to children in order to particularly safeguard the well-being of Angolan children,” the statement read.

Additionally, the embassy has also been working with the Namibian authorities to find the best solution that ensures social reintegration of the affected children in order to avoid them becoming targets of exploitation that may put their physical and psycho-emotional integrity at risk.

This comes after legal practitioner of the High Court Kadhila Amoomo wrote a letter on 6 February to the Office of the President calling for the child labour crisis on the streets of Namibia to be addressed.

“We are writing to bring to your attention a matter of grave concern regarding the exploitation of children, not limited to those from Angola, who are engaged in selling wooden products…” Amoomo said in the letter.

Amoomo said the practice of children selling items on the streets also violates a number of articles codified in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Additionally, Amoomo called on the government to implement effective measures to identify and assist the vulnerable children and provide them with access to food, shelter, education and all other forms of social support.

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