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The Ministry of Home Affairs, Immigration, Safety, and Security is expected to table a bill in the National Assembly next month that aims to address the issue of stateless or undocumented individuals in Namibia.

Currently, there are more than 140,000 stateless and undocumented individuals residing in Namibia, and Deputy Minister Dr. Daniel Kashikola says the primary objective of the proposed legislation is to reduce this number to zero.

This, he says, is in line with the UN's convention on the eradication of statelessness.

"We'll make provision for the determination to find out whether these people are really stateless or some of them are supposed to be Namibians who simply don't have documents, and when that is found out, they will then be given Namibian documents."

Kashikola states that the majority of these individuals are Angolans who migrated to Namibia several decades ago.

"We go out to the people and try to find out their status. If that person is found to be an Angolan, we will contact the Angolan authorities and find out why that person cannot have Angolan citizenship or any other country's citizenship. When we realise that the person is unable to get citizenship of another country, that person will be given Namibian citizenship because the intention is not to have any person in Namibia who is stateless."

The bill, once it becomes law, will include provisions for four types of identity documents.

These documents will be designated for Namibian citizens, refugees, individuals residing in Namibia with permits exceeding 12 months, and a separate category for those whose status is currently unknown or undetermined.

The Ministry, Kashikola says, will also regulate the status of residents in Namibia and those possessing older SWA IDs.

"There was a deadline for people with SWA IDs to get the Namibian ID, which led to some people, as we speak, no longer having access to their social pension or other services because they do not have Namibian IDs."

The Deputy Minister made the remarks at the Africa Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Day at Bravo Settlement in Kavango West Region.

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Frances Shaahama