THE British high commissioner to Namibia, Charles Moore, yesterday described Namibian asylum seekers as disgraceful, saying they are abusing the United Kingdom’s asylum system.
“At one point, Namibians had the highest number of asylum seekers worldwide, which is quite disgraceful,” Moore responded at State House to questions about a botched planned trip by a group of Namibians to the recent Commonwealth Games in the United Kingdom (UK).
Khomas regional councillor Rodman Katjaimo used a regional council letterhead to canvas support from the British high commission for the planned trip, which ended up not taking place. In total almost 200 people have been affected.
“They don’t need a visa to go to the UK so they turn up in the UK and then claim asylum because then we have to let them in. It is being abused by a number of people,” Moore said.
He said the high commission received an inquiry on whether the group obtained visas.
“And with huge numbers of people going to the UK as a group, the airlines expressed concerns and it was the airlines who refused to carry the group to the UK,” he said.
If airlines carry somebody who is not granted entry into the UK they get fined, he added.
“So it is a commercial decision the airlines took not to carry the first group of 51 or 52 people on the councillor’s list because the airline was not satisfied that they were genuine visitors and that was also in consultation with us,” Moore further said.
Moore said the councillor consulted his office too late on the matter.
“It was the police who stepped in the following day because they had concerns,” he added.
Moore believes it is a selfish action because it blocks the British asylum system which is there to help people who are in real distress.
“Personally, I think it is not right. Because I can think of no reason why anybody should want to claim asylum from Namibia,” he said.
The UK has been concerned about rising numbers of Namibians going to the UK and claiming asylum.
“And for that reason, especially following the first part of this year where we have seen an increase in those figures, we’ve had closer engagement with airlines through our immigration officials who came up from Pretoria and they were here at that time,” he explained.