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Germany Officially Recognizes Colonial Genocide In Namibia, Pledges €1bn Support

Africa News

Germany has officially admitted for the first time that it committed genocide during its colonial-era occupation of Namibia more than a century ago and has agreed to pay financial support worth over one billion euros ($1.34bn) to assist infrastructure projects in the African country. German colonisers killed tens of thousands of Herero and Nama people there in early 20th century massacres between 1904 and 1908, after the tribes rebelled against Berlin’s rule. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Friday acknowledged the killings as genocide. “We will now officially refer to these events as what they are from today’s perspective: genocide.” Maas admitted. "In light of Germany's historical and moral responsibility, we will ask Namibia and the descendants of the victims for forgiveness," he added.

Mr Maas added that Germany would, in a "gesture to recognise the immense suffering inflicted on the victims", support the country's development through a programme worth more than 1.1 billion euros (£940m; $1.34bn).

Maas who said the funds will be provided over 30 years, through spending on infrastructure, healthcare and training programmes benefiting the impacted communities, noted that the agreed payment, which came after more than five years of negotiations, does not open the way to any “legal request for compensation”.

German occupation of Namibia lasted from 1884 to 1915. The killings began in 1904 after a Herero and Nama rebellion over German seizures of their land and cattle.

Then known as German South-West Africa, the atrocities committed there have been described by historians as "the forgotten genocide" of the early 20th Century.

Anywho were found trying to return to their land were either killed or put into concentration camps. Some survivors were driven into the desert, where many ended up in the camps to be used as slave labour and many died from cold, malnutrition and exhaustion.

Meanwhile, according to the state-owned New Era newspaper, some traditional leaders have so far refused to endorse the deal.