WINDHOEK, 03 DEC – San representatives from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries met here on Monday to address issues of social integration and inclusivity among indigenous people.
The three-day SADC Region San Communities workshop is aimed at engaging in constructive dialogue which would inform the policy guidelines that will be outlined in the White Paper on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Namibia.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, United Nations (UN) Director for the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Rosemary Lane emphasised that San languages are threatened and that the rights of San people to land and territories have not always been adequately respected.
She also said they lack access to socio-economic benefits.
Lane explained that the White Paper on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Namibia is a partnership between the Namibian Government and UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) to serve as a guide in the reform and implementation of legal frameworks, policies and strategies.
“The workshop offers a unique opportunity for SADC countries to exchange information, points of view, differences and share best practices in line with the production of the White Paper,” she said.
At the same occasion, Deputy Minister of Marginalised Communities in the Office of the Vice President, Royal Ui/o/oo said the unequal suffering of San people compared to other cultural groups prompted the establishment of the Division of Marginalised Communities to fully integrate the San, Ovatue and Ovatjimba communities in the mainstream of the Namibian society and economy.
He emphasised that constructive dialogues are needed to develop strategies and initiatives to improve the wellbeing of the San people through the promotion of social integration and inclusive development.
“Government’s responsibility is to integrate these communities in the mainstream because they are still living in extreme poverty conditions with limited access to school, housing and health facilities,” he said. – NAMPA