Activists mark World Refugee Day

South Africa joins the celebration just two months after xenophobic violence broke out in KZN and Gauteng.

FILE: A lunch queue snakes from a tent at a temporary camp for foreign nationals displaced by xenophobic violence in Isipingo, Durban. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Dozens of activists have gathered in Cape Town to mark World Refugee Day and to raise awareness about the rights of immigrants in the country.

South Africa joins the celebration just two months after thousands of immigrants were forced to flee to their home countries due to xenophobic violence in parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

An event organised by NGO group, Whole World Women Association, is underway in Salt River.

The association's Marry Tar says many refugees they support have escaped turmoil in their countries in search of better lives.

She says days like today are important to educate locals about the plight of refugees.

The event is aimed at reflecting on the violence in several war-torn countries and to honour those who have lost their lives in the conflict.

It's supported by various NGOs including the Right 2 Know Campaign and the Khulumani Support Group

The African Centre for Migration and Society at Wits University says deporting people is not an effective response to illegal migration in the country.

As the World Marks Refugee Day, there has been renewed debate around government measures used to control the influx of illegal migrants who enter the country.

Spokesperson for the centre Roni Amit said, "Fighting illegal migration has not only been done in South Africa but really all over the world. Often people who are deported will re-enter the country."