Articles

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15. Apr. 2020 News 24

Coronavirus uncertainty affects asylum seekers

A number of migrant and non-governmental organisations that help
asylum seekers have reported anecdotal incidents of these offices,
including the ones in Port Elizabeth, Cape Town and Durban, not
accepting new applicants.

The Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town and the Nelson Mandela Refugee
Rights Centre in Port Elizabeth say they have heard of asylum
seekers being told that the refugee reception offices in these
cities won’t be taking new applicants until staff members have
been supplied with masks, gloves and hand sanitisers.

The Department of Home Affairs has not confirmed the measures that
have been put in place to deal with the arrival of asylum seekers,
with phone calls and WhatsApp messages to the minister’s
spokesperson, Siya Qoza, and the department’s media manager, David
Hlabane, going unanswered.

Linton Harmse, director of the Refugee Rights Centre, said the
closure of these offices could have a severely negative impact on
new asylum applicants as well as existing asylum seekers in South
Africa wanting to renew their permits.

“The impact will be wide. If you have a bank account and your
permit expires, the day it expires your bank account is frozen. It
will only be opened again if you come with a new permit. So if you
don’t get the new permit in that week or the next month, you will
be without your money,” he said.

“You won’t have access to your funds. Obviously, you would not be
able to buy food, pay school fees, buy sanitiser, go to the
doctor. You know everything costs money. That is one of the
immediate ways it will impact asylum seekers.

“That is if you are already documented,” Harmse continued. “There
are hundreds of asylum seekers who have not been documented yet.
They are given an appointment in 30 days’ time. They come then and
are just given another 30 days. They are not seen because [home
affairs] does not have staff capacity.”

Harmse warned that asylum seekers could either remain undocumented
or lose their legal status if their permits expire and they are
unable to renew them because of coronavirus-related delays.

Closed borders not the answer

Jean Bwasa, chairperson of The Right to Live and a leader of the
Congolese community in Johannesburg, said he is worried about
asylum seekers. “It will have a negative impact on new applicants
who are already in the country because they will become illegal.
Closing the borders is a good thing in that each and every country
wants to protect its citizens, but it goes against the goals to
have a borderless Africa.

“There are still countries in Africa where there is conflict and
war. We need to think of strategies other than closing the
borders,” he said.

Sally Gandar, head of advocacy and legal adviser at the Scalabrini
Centre, said the closure of ports of entry is a concern. “We call
on the government to ensure that the manner of implementation does
not violate South Africa’s obligations in terms of international
and domestic law and the principle of non-refoulement.”

Non-refoulement is a principle under international human rights
law which guarantees that no person be returned to a country where
they may face persecution or harm.

“In addition, if [refugee reception offices] are not accepting new
asylum applications, which would mean the asylum applicant does
not adhere to the five-day requirement in asylum transit visas,
the [department] must ensure that there is a general amnesty from
strict adherence to those provisions during this time,” Gandar
said. “This would be the correct and sensible strategy to take to
ensure protection of all persons within South Africa, and better
public health outcomes.

“Now, more than ever, the department needs to communicate more
effectively and urgently with this population. The implications of
ignoring or continuing to treat this part of our population as
invisible will be felt by all persons in South Africa. Health, and
by implication illness, knows no borders and a virus does not stop
and ask for an individual’s immigration status prior to being
transmitted. Vulnerable populations need to be specifically
addressed and catered for in the government’s response. Failure to
do this would simply mean that the response is not a comprehensive
one.”

Overcrowding a concern

Michael Clements, acting national director of Lawyers for Human
Rights (LHR), called for a moratorium on the detention and
deportation of migrants as well as unnecessary arrests and
detention for Schedule 1 offences.

“Detained individuals in overcrowded detention centres such as
Lindela Repatriation [Centre], police stations and remand prisons
are at high risk of contracting and spreading the virus. These
facilities are ill-equipped to deal with an outbreak of the
disease. This is especially true in relation to the elderly and
those suffering from chronic illnesses,” said Clements. “LHR
further calls on the Department of Home Affairs to present its
plan of action regarding the renewal of asylum seeker permits,
considering the president’s prohibition on gatherings of more than
100 people.”

Gandar added: “We understand that at least two refugee reception
offices, in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, are closed, apparently
until the staff are provided with protective gear. We have also
been told that the Durban office is no longer accepting new asylum
applicants, only processing renewals.

“While gloves, masks and hand sanitiser may provide some
protection to [department] staff members, it does not contain the
spread from person to person … and so these types of measures
would be wholly inadequate if they’re the only measure
implemented.

“This is particularly evident when one considers that, on any
single day, far more than 100 people try to access services at a
refugee reception office. The president has prohibited gatherings
of over 100 people and all non-essential travel. These
prohibitions should also be implemented in a way that ensures that
asylum seekers and refugees rights are respected, protected,
promoted and fulfilled,” Gandar said.

Refugees in limbo

The International Organisation for Migration and the United
Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) have meanwhile
announced that they would temporarily suspend the resettlement of
refugees.

In a statement on the UNHCR’s website, the organisations said: “As
countries drastically reduce entry into their territories owing to
the Covid-19 global health crisis, and restrictions around
international air travel are introduced, travel arrangements for
resettling refugees are currently subject to severe disruptions.
Some states have also placed a hold on resettlement arrivals given
their public health situation, which impacts on their capacity to
receive newly resettled refugees.

“Refugee families are being directly impacted by these quickly
evolving regulations in the course of their travel, with some
experiencing extensive delays while others have been stranded or
separated from family members.”

During a press briefing on Tuesday, Minister of Home Affairs Aaron
Motsoaledi spoke about the possibility of renewing long-term visas
that are due to expire soon. He said the department would “very
gladly renew visas” until July, but people would have to give a
good reason for wanting to stay in South Africa. He said nothing
about refugees or asylum seekers.

www.samigration.com V.5091

10. Jun. 2020 SBS

COVID-19 impact on visa processing times: ‘Visas continue to be processed, though some applications may take longer’

Amid speculations surrounding offshore visa processing, the Department of Home Affairs has clarified that visa applications continue to be processed during the coronavirus pandemic, but decision delays cannot be ruled out. V.5123

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04. Jun. 2020 SA People

PLEAS for DIRCO to Help Repatriate South Africans, and Urgent Court Application Issued

Pleas for DIRCO to help South Africans stranded abroad, or stuck in SA with jobs abroad, have increased as many run out of money, medicine and hope. The DA today issued a call for Dirco to liaise better with embassies in helping get citizens home; and AfriForum this morning issued urgent court papers in an effort to find solutions to the many problems facing South African citizens needing repatriation, including the fact that they are still required to spend a minimum of 14 days in quarantine in a state facility, while most have the ability and would prefer to isolate themselves. V.5116

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04. Jun. 2020 News24

Mango to restart flights

Mango Airlines will resume flights on Monday, June 15, between Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. Travellers must present a travel permit and letter from their employer authorising business travel. This will be checked at the entrance to airports and again at check-in and boarding, says CEO, Nico Bezuidenhout. “Important enough to say it twice: if a traveller does not have a relevant permit for essential or business travel with the appropriate sign-off, the traveller will not be granted access to the airport and may subsequently forfeit the purchased ticket.” V.5117

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04. Jun. 2020 News 24

PLEAS for DIRCO to Help Repatriate South Africans, and Urgent Court Application Issued

Pleas for DIRCO to help South Africans stranded abroad, or stuck in SA with jobs abroad, have increased as many run out of money, medicine and hope. The DA today issued a call for Dirco to liaise better with embassies in helping get citizens home; and AfriForum this morning issued urgent court papers in an effort to find solutions to the many problems facing South African citizens needing repatriation, including the fact that they are still required to spend a minimum of 14 days in quarantine in a state facility, while most have the ability and would prefer to isolate themselves. V.5118

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04. Jun. 2020 News 24

Here is what the High Court said about the various lockdown regulations

Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma (GCIS) • High Court Judge Norman Davis has given Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma 14 days to amend lockdown regulations, however, the national state of disaster is set to lapse before that deadline. • Davis has slammed some of the regulations, saying there are millions of South Africans who operate in the informal sector, who have lost their livelihoods. • Davis says in the case of hairdressers, a single mother and sole provider for her family is stripped of her rights of dignity, equality, to earn a living and to provide for the best interest of her children. V.5119

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04. Jun. 2020 News 24

Covid-19 in SA: Death toll now at 848 as number of cases surge past 40 000

The Covid-19 death toll has hit 848, after 56 more people died - 54 of whom were from the epicentre Western Cape. The number of cases rose by 3 267 to 40 792. The number of recoveries is 21 311. The government is set to appeal a court judgment handed down this week which declared the lockdown regulations for Levels 3 and 4 unconstitutional. This came as the government also announced that a state of disaster will be extended until 15 July. Here is what the courts found in the ruling. V.5120

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04. Jun. 2020 News 24

Mango to restart flights

Mango Airlines will resume flights on Monday, June 15, between Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. Travellers must present a travel permit and letter from their employer authorising business travel. This will be checked at the entrance to airports and again at check-in and boarding, says CEO, Nico Bezuidenhout. “Important enough to say it twice: if a traveller does not have a relevant permit for essential or business travel with the appropriate sign-off, the traveller will not be granted access to the airport and may subsequently forfeit the purchased ticket.” V.5121

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03. Jun. 2020

South Africa: COVID-19 - Bank Accused of Freezing Asylum Seekers` Accounts During Lockdown

First National Bank has been accused of freezing the accounts of asylum seekers whose permits have expired during lockdown. Refugees can`t renew permits because offices are closed A Zimbabwean asylum seeker says First National Bank (FNB) froze his account when his asylum papers expired during lockdown in spite of explanations from the Department of Home Affairs that refugee offices are closed. According to People Against Suffering and Oppression (PASSOP), his is one of at least ten accounts which have been frozen in the same way. V.5115

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02. Jun. 2020 Business Day

Home affairs seeks extension of VFS Global visa contract The department wants to extend the contract until it is ready to launch a public-private partnership

The department of home affairs has recommended the extension of the contract of its front-end visa handling operator until it is ready to launch a public-private partnership with a new service provider to undertake the work. The contract with VFS Global expires at the end of December but home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi told parliament’s home affairs committee on Tuesday that this was not enough time to finalise the public-private partnership, especially given the constraints imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown. V.5114

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30. May. 2020 IOL

Over 300 illegal foreigners arrested for trying to enter SA during lockdown

Cape Town - Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has revealed that his department has found an increase of more than 300 foreigners trying to enter the country during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown amid the questions in the Beitbridge border post fencing. V.5113

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30. May. 2020 IOL

Over 300 illegal foreigners arrested for trying to enter SA during lockdown

Cape Town - Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has revealed that his department has found an increase of more than 300 foreigners trying to enter the country during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown amid the questions in the Beitbridge border post fencing. V.5122

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27. May. 2020 Travel Reporter

What South Africans leaving the country for essential travel should know

South Africans who are considering to travel to countries of work or study will need to show the relevant documents before it is approved. This follows Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi`s announcement over the weekend that South Africans who work and study abroad can return to the countries where they are based from June 1, 2020. Motsoaledi, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation and the National Coronavirus Command Council, approved essential travel for South Africans who want to return to countries where they are based. Home Affairs said South Africans can only depart for work, study, family reunion, take up permanent residency or receive medical attention. No leisure travel will be permitted. V.5108

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27. May. 2020 BBC

Zambia probes Chinese clothes factory murders

Police in Zambia have arrested three people suspected of murdering three Chinese nationals, dragging the bodies into a factory and setting it alight. Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo has promised a full investigation into Sunday`s `barbaric` crime. It took place at the Chinese-owned Blue Star clothing factory. The attack comes amid a controversial crackdown in the capital, Lusaka, on Chinese businesses accused of discriminating against Zambians. There has also been tension over reports that Chinese factory managers have been forcing employees to sleep at work to stop the spread of coronavirus, the BBC`s Kennedy Gondwe reports from Lusaka. V.5109

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27. May. 2020 The Hindu

Coronavirus | States to clear operation of international flights

Stranded passengers told to register with Indian missions, download Aarogya Setu App The Ministry of Civil Aviation has issued a Standard Operating Protocol (SOP) for private aircraft and charter operations on international sectors in view of COVID-19 pandemic. However, the flights would be allowed subject to the clearance from the respective State/Union Territory Governments. The new guidelines follow the instructions of the Ministry of Home Affairs permitting private aircrafts and international charter operations to bring back many Indians who had travelled to different countries before the lockdown on various purposes - employment, tourism, business studies etc - and were stranded there. V.5110

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27. May. 2020 News 24

It takes most foreign-trained doctors months to register in SA. How did Cuban health workers do it in 3 days?

Most foreign-trained doctors spend months trying to register with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA), but visiting Cuban healthcare workers waited just three days - and the HPCSA may have the power to make this possible for more foreign- trained doctors sitting on the sidelines of the Covid-19 response. On Monday, Gauteng welcomed 28 Cuban doctors to assist in the province`s response to the Covid-19 outbreak. The group is part of the 187 healthcare workers who arrived from the Caribbean nation on 27 April and are being deployed around the country. Cuba is known for its strong primary healthcare systems that helped it achieve one of the world`s highest life expectancies, according to World Bank data, despite spending less per person on health than many other nations. It also has a long-standing partnership with South Africa when it comes to health care. But the arrival of Cuban healthcare workers came as many foreign- trained doctors in South Africa said they were s V.5112

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23. May. 2020 Channel 4 Music

29 South African artists repatriated from Turkey

In a statement released on Saturday, the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture and the Department of International Relations and Cooperation announced the repatriation of 29 musicians and artists who were stranded in Turkey. According to the statement, `the group was meant to fly home, when flights were grounded due to the coronavirus pandemic.` V.5111

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19. May. 2020 News24

Home Affairs considers marriage registrations during Level 3

While it is clearing the backlog in birth registrations created by Level 5, the Department of Home Affairs is considering allowing the registration of marriages when the country moves to Level 3. This after the department addressed a portfolio committee on Tuesday. V.5102

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18. May. 2020 Africacheck

How to talk about migration in South Africa

The words used to describe migration can be confusing, but definitions are important when we discuss the movements of people. We look at the most common terms. The Covid-19 pandemic has brought many countries, and the movement of people, to a near standstill. As the world looks to restart, migration will again be at the fore, with South Africa likely to be a key part of this. V.5103

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13. May. 2020 All Africa

South Africa: Migrants Excluded From Government Food Aid

All around South Africa, migrants, refugees and asylum seekers who have mostly been left out of the government`s official response to the food crisis are going hungry. For Alice Munyanyiwa, a cup of tea has become a luxury she can barely afford. V.5098

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12. May. 2020 KCTV5

Australia faces `sobering` future economy due to coronavirus

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) ` Australia`s treasurer said Tuesday the country faces a “sobering” economic outlook due to the effects of the coronavirus and will have its largest-ever deficit when a revised budget is released in October. The 2020-21 federal budget was due to be released Tuesday. But the government was forced to delay it until it assesses the full economic cost of the coronavirus. V.5100

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Articles

10. Jun. 2020 SBS

COVID-19 impact on visa processing times: ‘Visas continue to be processed, though some applications may take longer’

Amid speculations surrounding offshore visa processing, the Department of Home Affairs has clarified that visa applications continue to be processed during the coronavirus pandemic, but decision delays cannot be ruled out. V.5123

Click here for full article

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