AFRICA/SOUTH AFRICA - The difficult conditions of refugees in South Africa at the center of the concerns of the Church

Thursday, 2 June 2016 migrants  

Johannesburg (Agenzia Fides) - "The refugees in South Africa have to face injustice and inhumanity" said His Exc. Mgr. Joseph Buti Thlagale, Archbishop of Johannesburg, in his opening speech at the roundtable organized by the Department of Pastoral Care for Migrants and Refugees of the Archdiocese of Johannesburg and by the Jesuit Refugee Services (JRS).
Church agencies in South Africa are called to have compassion and be welcoming, sharing information to improve co-ordination of services and enhancing charitable works.
During the roundtable discussion several issues related to the conditions of refugees in the Country were addressed. JRS stressed that the new national health insurance, covers all South African citizens and permanent refugees, but cover for asylum seekers is reduced, with provision only for emergency services.
The director of the Scalabrini Institute for Human Mobility in Africa examined the question of why migration policies fail. He noted that what policies in fact do is introduce "selection and admission criteria, which cannot determine numbers and flows and patterns of migration. And so it is important to understand why people migrate". He concluded by stressing that every migration policy needs to look at national interests (security rights of citizens), and at human rights issues. "Ideally they need to have the same weight".
A speaker from Mozambique outlined the refugee situation in that country. Most refugees are Congolese. They are required to declare their request for asylum status when they cross the border into Mozambique from Tanzania. Registration processes take place in the refugee camp and only those people recognised as refugees can live outside the camp. After ten years they can apply to become citizens. “Irregular migrants” are arrested, forced to leave the country or deported. Many in the south where there is no conflict are likely to attempt to go to South Africa. Some are likely to be sent back to Mozambique, where the Scalabrinian missionaries have organized centers to assist them. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 02/06/2016)