Namibian asylum seekers flood UK

The number of Namibians seeking asylum in the United Kingdom (UK) has skyrocketed in recent years, jumping from 27 in 2016 to over 1 400 last year.

This surpasses the number of asylum seekers from war-torn countries like Sudan, Syria and Afghanistan, according to statistics provided by the British government.

Some members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI+) community claim some asylum seekers are pretending to be part of their community, using this as grounds for applying for asylum.

The number of asylum seekers from Namibia to the UK began to rise after the UK government did away with the working holiday visa arrangement for all countries in 2016.

In 2017, the number of Namibians seeking asylum in the UK increased to 101, followed by 265 in 2018 and 436 in 2019.

During the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, the number decreased to 228, then further to 137 in 2021.

However, it surged to 873 in 2022.

Namibia, being relatively conflict free and democratic, is not a country from which one would expect asylum seekers.

However, by June 2023, the number of refugee applications skyrocketed to 1 428, making Namibia the 15th-largest source of asylum requests.

It was reported that some 90% of Namibian applications for asylum in the UK were rejected in 2023.

Application for asylum can take up to one year and, if rejected, an appeal could take another year or more.

After one year in the UK refugees have the right to work.

They also have immediate access to the British national health scheme, as well as 50 pound per week for food, clothing and other essentials.

Many are initially accommodated at relatively average hotels.

If their final appeal for asylum status is rejected, the UK government will gives applicants a free one-way ticket to Rwanda.

Charles Moore


British high commissioner in Namibia Charles Moore last year told Desert Radio that most Namibian asylum seekers are doing so for economic benefit.

He said there is no reason why Namibians should claim asylum in the UK at all, adding that 91% of Namibian asylum claims have been declined since 2018.

With more people “running to the UK for all sorts of reasons to get sanctuary”, Moore said Namibia is suffering reputational damage.

UK high commission spokesperson Lwinda Mfune last week told The Namibian the high rejection rate shows most asylum applications from Namibian nationals are considered groundless.

Mfune said Namibians who have been denied asylum by the UK government are obligated to leave the country and return to Namibia.

If they refuse to do so, they face arrest and deportation.

Deyonce Naris


Deyonce Naris from the Transgender Intersex and Androgynous Movement of Namibia (Tiamon) says that there have been complaints about individuals who are not part of the LGBTQI+ community using this banner to seek asylum.

Naris says although this has been an issue, it is always important for the organisation to conduct fact checking.

“We were approached by individuals requesting letters of support for asylum applications through legal channels. It is always important for the organisation to verify facts, especially at the borders,” they say.

Brigit Loots, Sister Namibia’s national coordinator, says LGBTQI+ community members are treated as inhuman in Namibia and therefore some seek asylum.

“Most of the people in our community are seeking asylum in the UK, because they feel like they are not being accepted in the country. It is understandable,” she says.


An asylum seeker is regarded as a person who has left their home country as a refugee and is seeking asylum in another country because of war, persecution or violence.

However, this is not the case for some Namibians who told The Namibian that they are looking for greener pastures.

A 28-year-old Namibian woman who is currently living in the UK says she will not return to Namibia.

“I came here in 2021 when I was visiting my sister, who is now a citizen of the UK. As time went by, I realised that life here was much better than at home.

Some of those seeking asylum in the UK are currently in hiding.

An asylum seeker in his forties whose application has been rejected numerous times says he will keep trying.

“My application has been rejected numerous times, but I will keep fighting for it to be approved. If I decide to go home now, I may never be allowed back in the UK.

“That is why I do not want my details to be in the newspaper,” he says.

According to this source, many Namibians have been hiding in the UK.

“I am not the only one here who has been in hiding. There are a lot of us who don’t want to go home, because we already know it will not help,” he says.

Last year, the UK expressed concern about the rising numbers of Namibians seeking asylum there.

Currently only three African countries have visitor-visa free access to the UK – Botswana, Mauritius and Seychelles.

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