South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs, already receiving flak for its recent decision to begin deportations of undocumented Zimbabwean, recently announced the closure of the only Refugee Reception Office in Eastern Cape at the end of November under the pretext that Port Elizabeth was not located strategically to assist people who want to apply for asylum.
However, CoRMSA disputed that, adding that it was deeply disturbed by the lack of planning and proper consultation with other stakeholders on the side of the DHA, which “seemingly does not have any contingency plan in place to assist applicants from the Port Elizabeth RRO.”
The closed RRO dealt with applicants from the Free State, Northern Cape, Southern Cape and the Eastern Cape.
“It is inconceivable that poor refugees will have to travel to places that remain undisclosed to them up until this stage,” reads a statement from CoRMSA spokesperson, Gail Eddy.
“But it appears that they will have to travel long distances to places such as Cape Town, Durban, Pretoria or Musina, at great personal cost, to have their permits extended or access other services.
“Besides the economic hardships, this decision means that refugees will face serious administrative difficulties because of their files being relocated. And the transfer of files to other RROs will certainly overload those offices that are currently struggling to deal with their own backlogs. We also know that whenever Refugee Reception Offices are relocated many files are reported lost.”
CoRMSA called on the DHA to abandon its plans to close down the Port Elizabeth Refugee Reception Office and to immediately resume processing new applications for asylum.
“We also urge the DHA to communicate future decisions relating to asylum seeker and refugee management to civil society so that refugees and asylum seekers are not prejudiced as a result of a lack of information.”
The DHA had not responded to questions from The Zimbabwean at the time of going to print.Post published in: Africa News