The Refugee Rights Unit recently presented a paper on Hidden, Irregular and Forced Migration at a conference on migration organised by the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN) at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. Presented by Ncumisa Willie, an attorney in the unit, the paper, which she co-authored with the unit director Fatima Khan, highlighted the ways in which recent government policy shifts in the asylum process contribute to the proliferation of “hidden” and irregular migrants in South Africa.
The refugee crisis in Europe has not only highlighted the limitations of dated international laws on asylum seekers, but different interpretations of the EU’s Schengen rules and the Dublin Convention have also clouded responses to the crisis, said refugee rights scholar Fatima Khan.
In July 2012, the Department of Home Affairs made a policy decision to close the Refugee Reception Offices in the southern provinces of South Africa, but specifically the Cape Town Office to newcomers. In addition, this policy requires all persons that did not originally receive their permits in Cape Town to now return to their office of first application if they wish to reside in South Africa legally and have their permits extended. The effect of this policy is to restrict the movement of asylum seekers to the northern areas of South Africa.
The UCT Refugee Rights Unit would like to condemn in the strongest possible terms the Xenophobic Violence in 2015 and stands in opposition to any attempts to intimidate, attack, kill or in any other way harm or unfairly discriminate against foreign nationals in South Africa.