Namibia seeks to end statelessness for social progress

Stefanus Nashama

Albert Kawana, the Minister of Home Affairs, Immigration, Safety, and Security, expressed that while Namibia is grappling with the issues of statelessness and undocumented citizens, the Ministry is devising and implementing new strategies to address statelessness to foster social progress.

He conveyed these remarks at the commemoration of International Identity Day and the launch of the Online Tourist Visa Application in Windhoek last week.

Kawana disclosed that the Ministry is in the process of drafting bills with the objective of preventing statelessness and regularizing the status of specified categories of stateless and undocumented persons.

“I sincerely hope these instruments will be enacted to improve the lives of those affected,” he said.

The minister emphasized the need for the country to mitigate statelessness by ensuring that affected individuals can exercise their right to identity.

He mentioned that Namibia has recorded over 141,080 undocumented and/or stateless persons. Although he pointed out that this figure is not validated, he emphasized that it underscores the magnitude of the statelessness issue in the country.

“The figure represents the total number of people who consider themselves to be stateless or undocumented during the registration exercise conducted by the Ministry,” Kawana noted.

He highlighted the importance of documenting nationals as it provides essential data for projections in planning the provision of education, health, and housing by the government. In addition to addressing statelessness, Kawana revealed that the Namibian ID has evolved in conjunction with the e-governance initiatives for the country’s public service.

“This is evident in the use of IDs as travel documents between Botswana and Namibia,” he said, adding that Namibia is exploring extending this service to other neighbouring countries.

Kawana encouraged parents and guardians to register their children on time to acquire national documents.

He also appealed to the Ministry’s staff to ensure national documents are issued only to eligible individuals and warned against illicit activities within and outside the Ministry.

“Don’t expose this nation to unnecessary conflict by acquiring documents through illicit means,” he warned, advocating for zero tolerance towards those who corruptly issue such documents.

Kawana also stated that the Ministry has initiated the implementation of a new online service enabling tourists and visitors to apply for visas online.

International Identity Day is commemorated to amplify awareness about empowering individuals to exercise their rights and responsibilities fairly and equitably.

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