Government told to re-open refugee centers
By Hassan Isilow
The Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CORMSA) has urged government to take 67 minutes to reconsider the closure of refugee reception centers in the country, following this week’s Mandela Day focus. “We call upon government to reconsider opening refugee reception centers they recently closed,” Gwada Majange, CORMSA media officer told Africa Witness.
She said the group used Mandela Day for this call because SA icon, Nelson Mandela, dedicated most of his life to serving humanity in different ways. However, government’s recent decision to close a number of refugee reception centers in various cities had presented a crisis situation for the protection and preservation of the asylum system in South Africa.
“The refugee reception centre in Crown Mines (Johannesburg) was closed and now the Port Elizabeth office is operating partially, while the Cape Town office also closed. So where does government expect the refugees in these areas to go and renew their papers?” she questioned, adding that it will be expensive for refugees to travel to the country’s border posts to do so.
To make matters worse, Majange said, government had also passed a policy that denies prospective asylum seekers the right to do so at the country’s ports of entry. According to CORMSA, this policy made it difficult particularly for refugee families who were separated during flights and sought to reunite upon arrival in South Africa. These families faced a huge struggle to link their files at Home Affairs as officials there sent them back and forth, she added.
CORMSA held a protest march outside the Marabastad Refugee reception office in Pretoria on 19 June on the eve of World Refugee Day with the aim of highlighting the new government policy on refugees. When asked if the protests had yielded any response from government, Majange said: “Not as yet, but we will continue with our campaigns. Hopefully it will yield success’’ she said.