‘Asylum seekers & refugees still being oppressed by South Africans’

On World Refugee Day, the African Diaspora Forum is warning that asylum seekers and refugees are still being oppressed by South Africans.

FILE: Refugees protested against the reception centre in Maitland, Cape Town in 2012. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - On World Refugee Day, the African Diaspora Forum is warning that asylum seekers and refugees are still being oppressed by South Africans.

At the same time, Lawyers for Human Rights are currently arguing on behalf of The Somali Association of South Africa in the High Court in Pretoria, seeking an order to address problems identified in the process to determine refugee status.

The African Diaspora Forum’s Marc Gbaffou says the refugee appeal board’s decision-making process is flawed and is failing thousands of refugees in the country.

“We need to address it properly and honestly so that people are assisted.”

Gbaffou adds that the government needs to reconsider its policies and processes to help refugees stay legally in the country.

Marthe Dikuelo Dikuelo says she fled from the DRC fearing for her life in 2013, leaving her family behind.

Dikuelo says she’s still not able to find a job as a nurse.

“I can’t find a job because I have to submit documents to the Nursing Council and I must have a referral number.”

She says the government needs to make the asylum process easier to stop people corrupting the system.

Four years later, she says life in South Africa as a refugee comes with several challenges.

“Things are very difficult and that’s why people take short cuts.”

The forum said if the government made it easier for refugees to obtain legal documentation to stay in South Africa, the process would be less corrupt.

The forum says refugees in South Africa are seeking safety in the country, but it seems as though government goes out of its way to make it as difficult as possible for one to qualify for legal permits.

The forum claims refugees and asylum seekers are mistreated at state hospitals due to their refugee status.

This claim has been dismissed by the Health Department.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)