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Civil rights groups highlight challenges faced by refugees, asylum seekers in CT

The organisation says refugees and asylum seekers face discrimination, and major administrative hassles when applying for or renewing their permits at the Department of Home Affairs.

FILE: Refugees march in Cape Town. Picture: EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Civil rights groups are calling for better treatment of refugees in Cape Town.

The Gender Justice Group and various other civil society partners are demanding that the Cape Town Refugee Reception Office reopen following its closure six years ago.

They held a protest at Custom House on Friday to highlight the challenges refugees and asylum seekers face daily.

Sonke Gender Justice says they are concerned about the poor services and conditions at Custom House.

The organisation says refugees and asylum seekers face discrimination, and major administrative hassles when applying for or renewing their permits at the Department of Home Affairs.

The group's Marika Keller says the closure of the office has forced asylum seekers to travel vast distances and spend money every six months to get their papers renewed.

“The conditions in which asylum seekers and refugees apply for permits are despicable.”

Adonis Musati Project's Jean Luc Tshimala says refugees and asylum seekers have a tough time applying for documents at the office.

“They are not helping newcomers and that’s a big problem. If you don't have proper documentation it means you can’t access hospital, you can’t go to school.”

Keller says in September, the Supreme Court of Appeal ordered the department to open a fully functioning office for new asylum applications but no progress has been made.

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