Germany agrees to pay Namibia € 1.1 billion for historic Herero-Nama genocide

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Germany must agree to pay Namibia 1.1 billion euros (£ 940 million) to fund projects among communities affected by the Herero-Nama genocide in the early 20th century, which the government of Angela Merkel considers it a gesture of reconciliation but not legally binding. repairs.

Tens of thousands of men, women and children were shot, tortured or driven to the Kalahari Desert to starve to death by German troops between 1904 and 1908 after the Herero and Nama tribes rebelled against the colonial rule in what was then German South West Africa and is now Namibia.

Since 2015, Germany has been negotiating with the Namibian government what it calls an attempt to “heal the wounds” of historic violence.

On Thursday, official circles in Berlin confirmed reports from Namibian media that after nine rounds of negotiations the two sides had agreed on the text of a joint statement and on a sum of 1.1 billion euros. , which will be paid separately to existing aid programs over 30 years.

Of the total amount, more than one billion euros will go to projects related to land reform, rural infrastructure, water supply and vocational training. The communities of Herero and Nama descendants, which form ethnic minorities in all seven affected regions, are believed to be involved in the development of specific projects.

Some 50 million euros will be spent on setting up a foundation for reconciliation between the two states, including cultural projects and youth exchange programs.

The text of the joint statement will label atrocities committed by German troops “genocide” but omit the words “reparations” or “compensation,” the Guardian understands – a movement born out of fear that such language could set a precedent legal for claims of other nations.

Some of the many groups that make up the descendants of genocide survivors criticized the framing of the negotiations from the start and refused to support the Namibian government’s position.

Supreme Leader Vekuii Rukoro, head of Ovaherero’s Traditional Authority, criticized his government for not insisting on financial reparations: “When German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier comes to Namibia to apologize, we will embarrass, ”he told local media.

Namibian newspaper New Era reported on Thursday that at least three traditional leaders who had supported the government’s negotiations so far had refused to approve the final wording of the declaration, which could make it difficult for the deal to be signed by President Hage Geingob.

The position of the German side is that they negotiated the agreement with a Namibian government representing the population of the country as a whole, and that the agreement does not stand or fall on the approval of the groups of Herero descendants and Name.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas welcomed the deal on Friday. “Our goal was, and continues to be, to find a common path towards true reconciliation in the memory of the victims,” said the Social Democratic politician.

“This obliges us to be wholehearted and unabashed in naming the events of the German colonial period in what is now Namibia, and in particular the atrocities of the period 1904 to 1908. We will now officially call these events what ‘they are from a contemporary. perspective: genocide ”.

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