News / South Africa

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2 minute read
27 Feb 2021
11:44 am

Home Affairs in talks with neighbouring countries to house stranded Cape Town refugees

News24 Wire

Minister Aaron Motsoaledi told Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs they are looking at a reintegration process or deportations as the final resolution.

Foreign nationals camp at the United Nation refugees’ agency in Waldorf Arcade on October 16, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. According to reports, the group is petitioning for safe passage out of the country, they intend to remain there until they receive support from the UN. Picture: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach

The Department of Home Affairs says it is in discussion with neighbouring countries over repatriation efforts to handle the refugee crisis arising from those people who occupied Greenmarket Square and the Central Methodist church.

Both groups were eventually moved to Paint City in Bellville and Wingfield in Kensington because of the lockdown.

ALSO READ: Home affairs committee wants Cape Town refugee crisis resolved

On Friday, Minister Aaron Motsoaledi told Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs they are looking at a reintegration process or deportations as the final resolution.

“Regarding deportation, consultation between the department and the respective embassies of (the) Democratic Republic of the Congo and that of Burundi is being undertaken to finalise the repatriation of their respective nationals.

Issuance of the required documentation will allow for the deportation process to be concluded,” he said.

The minister said it has held engagements with the United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees (UNHCR) as well.

“The UNHCR has engaged in various consultations at both these sites to address those who have indicated their intention to participate in a voluntary repatriation programme,” Motsoaledi said.

Currently, there are two proposals from the Department of Home Affairs: either the refugees are reintegrated into their communities or they are repatriated.

The issue has forced the portfolio committee to intervene, with it requesting several times that all spheres of government come up with a solution.

ALSO READ: Home Affairs, City of Cape Town fight over deportation of refugee

In October, the Department of Home Affairs told the committee it was formulating an exit strategy, but the state of disaster has had a significant impact on its plan. Refugees who had been scattered across the Cape Town CBD since last October 2019 were relocated to either the Bellville Paint City site or the Wingfield military base.

The move was due to Covid-19 regulations. The City’s mayoral committee member for community and health services, Zahid Badroodien, told Parliament:

“It is important for all stakeholders in this process to have all relevant information pertaining to both sites. The information is required to plan the way forward and to determine the roles of each of the stakeholders,” he said.

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