Refugees in Cape Town have said that they have nowhere to go after Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi gave them until next Friday to either voluntarily repatriate to their counties of origin or reintegrate into local communities.
The refugees, who are currently accommodated at Paint City and Wingfield temporary sites, had initially settled in and around Green Market Square after they were forcibly moved from outside the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) offices in Waldorf Square in October 2019 where they were conducting a sit-in protest.
They were removed to Paint City and Wingfield camps during the hard lockdown last year.
But speaking to eNCA on Saturday, the refugees insisted that a solution must be found for them before they can be evacuated.
“We were actually surprised to see the immigration giving us that notice while we still waiting to go through the assessment by the UNHR.
Refugees in Cape Town say they have nowhere to go. This comes after Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi gave them until next Friday to reintegrate into communities or be deported. Courtesy #DStv403 #eNCA pic.twitter.com/YACwJvVYlT
— eNCA (@eNCA) April 24, 2021
“It (UNHR) has told us that they will come to us and confirm to us when this is going to start. But to our big surprise, we received that notice, which now we would like the world to see the way they are treating refugees in South Africa.
“We’ve got nowhere to go. And when they are talking about evacuating, they have to find a solution for us. So we will wait for them until the date so that we see what is going to happen to everyone here in the camps,” said one of the refugees.
Efforts have been made in the past to resolve the refugee crisis, which has continued for nearly two years.
According to News24, Motsoaledi 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 have agreed to be repatriated while 390 people have 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.”