Johannesburg (Agenzia Fides) - One notices an opening to review the migration policy for refugees, but must be realized in concrete, taking into account that the devil hides in the details. This is the meaning of the note sent to Agenzia Fides, published by the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference and the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), after a meeting with the Minister of Home Affairs of South Africa, Malusi Gigaba, on the occasion of the recent World Day of Refugee.
The Minister acknowledged the positive contribution made by refugees to the Country, and the need for South Africans to become aware of this. At the same time he condemned xenophobia and the temptation to throw on refugees the responsibility of the evils in the Country.
What raises more doubts in the Church is "is the desire for a realistic separation of the different policy responses needed for migrants and refugees, in particular migrants from impoverished Countries looking for better opportunities but who appear “refugee-like” in their social and economic profile but whose nature of need is of a different order. This is a formidable challenge both at a policy and operational level and demands a new found sophistication from government and department alike", said the note.
This separation between economic migrants and refugees will be implemented through two measures. The first is the creation of an "an indefinite refugee status for refugees in South Africa thus closing the option of permanent residence or citizenship" and the other " the creation of some kind of SADC identity document to facilitate movement between countries and in policy separate economic migrants from the more immediate humanitarian concerns of refugees".
The fear of the Church is that with these measures instead of promoting the integration of refugees a "more permanent class" is created, different from the rest of the population.
SADC (Southern African Development Community) is made up of Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Several residents of the other SADC states travel to South Africa in search of employment opportunities. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 24/06/2016)