Former Green Market Square refugees, who are currently accommodated at Paint City and Wingfield temporary sites in Cape Town have been given a two week deadline to either voluntarily repatriate to their countries of origin or reintegrate into local communities.
The refugees and asylum seekers had initially settled in and around Green Market Square after they were forcibly moved from outside the UNHCR offices in Waldorf Square in October 2019 where they were conducting a sit-in protest.
Reports said Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi gave the ultimatum on Monday, during a media briefing about efforts being made to resolve the refugee crisis which has continued for nearly two years.
Motsoaledi said the refugees had until Friday, April 30, to either reintegrate into South African communities or be deported.
According to News24, the minister said there were only two options left after a lengthy standoff:
“Find somewhere else to live and accept an offer from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to cover three months’ rent and food while settling back in, or;
“Accept a free ticket to their country of origin paid by the UN International Organisation for Migration.”
A Daily Maverick report said so far, 121 refugees had agreed to be repatriated while 390 people had accepted the reintegration option and left the camps.
“The International Organisation for Migration is preparing to fly them out of the country to DRC, Burundi and Côte d’Ivoire, but an extraordinary majority are from DRC.”
Meanwhile, IOL quoted Motsoaledi as saying that 41 people from among the Green Market Square refugees had been deported as a result of leading “a rebellion” in which they misled their fellow refugees that the protest in Green Market Square would guarantee them a passage to Canada.
“These people who fashioned themselves as fighting for a just cause included refugee faction leaders Aline Bukuru, who was deported two weeks ago, and Papy Sukami from the opposing faction, who was deported on the same day.”
Picture: Cape Town etc