Gigaba: 'Asylum seeker system will require new policy proposals'

The Home Affairs minister visited the Bienvenue Shelter for refugee women and children on Monday.

Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba says South Africa's 'liberal asylum regime' has been hampered by people who are not genuine refugees but are seeking economic opportunities and have used applications for refugee status as an attempt to regularise their stay.

Gigaba visited the Bienvenue Shelter for refugee women and children to commemorate World Refuge Day on Monday.

In an address to the media the minister said "The sheer volume of applications from these migrants has placed an enormous burden on the refugee status determination process, which has disadvantaged genuine asylum seekers by delaying their decisions, in the past taking years where they should take no more than six months."

He says the strain the department's asylum seeker system will require new policy proposals, improved operational efficiency, and support from partners such as UNHCR to better protect those individuals who have been forced to leave their home countries because of war and persecution.

Gigaba says a Green Paper on International Migration will be released for comment this month.

"One of the issues which it will address are policy options for managing migration from and within Southern Africa. By better managing regional migration we hope to reduce abuse of the asylum application system."

Work is also under way to improve our refugee policies. We have to restructure asylum seeking to ensure that genuine refugees are assisted and have access to our Reception Centres. Hence we are committed to constructing a Reception Centre in Lebombo."

The minister reiterated government's commitment to host and protect refugees and said "We must ensure that we do not fall into the temptation seen in too many societies, of blaming refugees for pre-existing problems."