Namibian authorities say thousands of Angolans who entered Namibia in the past year to escape drought back home, have been returning amid fresh rains. Authorities this month said at least 18 Angolan infants, whose parents fled hunger, died in Namibia from malnutrition.
The acting health director in the Omusati region of northern Namibia, Dr. Francina Ananias, said most of the Angolan migrants arrived in the country in terrible condition, leading to the deaths of several infants, who had accompanied their mothers in search of food and water.
“We assessed them to find out that they had malnutrition,” said Ananias. “So, we have been giving them formulas that we have so that they can pick up, but unfortunately some of them died.”
The governor of the Omusati region, Erginus Endjala, who oversees the migrants’ safe return to Angola, said the recent rains have encouraged them to return home in order to tend to their fields.
“For the past five years, they did not receive enough rain. It means climate change have really brought severe drought to that part of Angola, that’s now the southern part of Angola,” Endjala Ananias. “When they came you could see from their bodies that they were malnourished and of course, as a result, some of those kids could not survive due to the lack of food and also their mothers did not have enough milk to breastfeed them. That is the reason I think we have recorded that high number of infant mortalities.”
Local journalist Maria Davids spoke to some of the migrants who are being repatriated by the Namibian government to Angola.
“The group were excited to return home, saying they were willing to re-start over and be re-united with their families,” said Davids.
In Namibia and Angola, incidents of hunger, both rural and urban, are increasing. The COVID-19 pandemic, drought and changing weather patterns are reversing gains made in terms of both countries realizing United Nations sustainable development goals.