The Constitutional Hill played host to a summit earlier this week with the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and the South African Institute for Advanced Constitutional, Public Human Rights, and International Law (SAIFAC). The summit was aimed at finding out if South Africans were welcoming to refugees as stipulated in the White Paper (PDF).
According to The Citizen, the SAIFAC states that what is written in the White Paper on International Migration is not the reality that the asylum seekers are experiencing. The South African asylum and refugee system conducts individual refugee status determination, which results in an estimated 90-plus percent of refusals, added SAIFAC.
“The system is slow and unjust and once you are caught in SA without the legal document you get arrested. South Africans are not welcoming to foreign nationals. The government and the people are very hostile towards foreign nationals,” noted director of the Refugee Rights Unit, Dr. Fatima Khan.
SAIFAC then suggested a programme called Global Impact, that could lessen pressure when it came to dealing with foreign nationals and would be self-reliant.
Prof. Loren Landau, the director of the African Centre for Migration and Society argued a different point of view than that of Khan.
“We are more welcoming than any other country in the world, the challenge is the socio-economic issue that we are facing of unemployment and poverty. If you look at the stats, refugees are doing way better than the South Africans, they have better jobs, health care system, and can afford the best houses,” added Landau.
“We are facing a huge problem at the home affairs. Our duty is to visit schools and hospitals in order to inform mothers that once they give birth, they need to come to Home Affairs with proper documents so that we can make birth certificates,” concluded Home Affairs spokesperson, Minah Malakoane.
As for what the next steps will be in addressing refugees entering the country, and being more welcoming of them, remains to be seen.