Refugee Matters

Summaries of easy accessible laws

The Legal Assistance Centre in partnership with UNHCR and the Julia Tuft Fund created and translated two posters titled “Namibian laws on Marriage” and “Namibian laws on Refugees & Asylum Seekers” summarising: What the law says about marriage regarding refugees and asylum seekers, derivative status (who qualifies & who doesn’t as well as some tips for when applying), the rights of refugees and asylum seekers, steps of the refugee application process, the criteria for status granting and of the loss/withdrawal of an individuals status.

Positive teamwork in 2022

The SJP team met with the UNCHR delegation to discuss their ongoing collaboration in terms of which the LAC assists with legal advice and assistance to refugees and asylum seekers in Osire Refugee Settlement.

There are approximately 4000 refugees and asylum seekers in Namibia. A refugee is someone who has received refugee status (see page 2) and an asylum seeker is someone who has applied for refugee status but has not been granted refugee status yet. Most refugees living in Namibia currently have fled conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic, Burundi, Chad, and Mali.  We published a short document on this topic written by Jasmijn de Zeeuw (LAC intern).

In 2018 the LAC through SJP received funding from UNHCR to provide legal services to refugees at Osire Refugee Settlement. The funding has been extended to 2019 and 2020.

SJP is responsible for providing legal services to residents of the settlements on all legal issues.
The SJP team travels to Osire regularly and has an office at the settlement where we operate from. We have successfully assisted many refugees with their applications for status and are currently assisting other applicants with different issues, relating to status determination, statelessness, S/GBV, and access to education.

In future SJP hopes to assist the refugees with divorce matters, to enable them to qualify for the resettlement programme under the UNHCR. The vulnerability of refugees as to their status and future necessitates a focused approach.

2021 Overview

SJP continues to work in partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to provide legal advice and support to asylum seekers and refugees at the Osire Refugee Settlement near Windhoek and the Reception Centre in Zambezi Region. Our work at Osire is complemented by our volunteers who run our office there. We provide ongoing training to our volunteers to capacitate them to take instructions and report any legal issues to us.

    • Training workshops and client consultations at Osire Refugee Settlement
      In 2021 we continued to run workshops for newly arrived asylum seekers and recognised refugees on human rights issues affecting them in Namibia. A workshop is held during each SJP visit to the settlement, with one full day always reserved for this exercise. To supplement the training, we give each participant a manual containing the workshop presentations for their future reference. The topics covered in the workshops held in 2021 are as follows:

      • Refugee Application Process in Namibia;
      • Loss and Withdrawal of Refugee Status;
      • Derivative Status Applications;
      • Marriage;
      • Trafficking in Namibia; and
      • Combating of Domestic Violence in Namibia.

We always receive positive feedback from workshop participants, to the effect that the training
gave them a much better understanding of the topics themselves and the related Namibian laws,
and they now know who to turn to for clarifications and guidance when facing such issues. During
our visits we also reserve time for consultations with individuals, and we answer questions posed
by asylum seekers and refugees on a daily basis.

    • Visit to refugee reception area in Zambezi Region
      Two SJP staff members visited the refugee reception area at Katima Mulilo in Zambezi in October 2021, to ascertain the status of refugees and asylum seekers in the region. We visited the Regional Commander of the Namibian Police to introduce ourselves and find out about refugees in police holding cells, and met with the region’s Chief Administrative Officer for Refugee Affairs who briefed us on the status of refugees in the border town, and showed us around the reception area. We then visited the Namibia-Zambia border post where we spoke with immigration officials and gave them a copy of our poster outlining the “Refugee Application Process” in an easily comprehensible way, for displaying at the border post.