Foreign nationals still in limbo seven years after closure of Cape Town office

The lives of thousands of people seeking refugee status in South Africa remain in limbo nearly seven years after Cape Town's Refugee Reception Office was closed down.

When the centre closed, the Scalabrini Centre took the Department of Home Affairs to court, saying there are many immigrants in Cape Town who need to be documented. Years later the centre still has not reopened and they're going back to court to get home affairs to open the centre again.

Kaylynn Palm, Reporter - EWN

The centre was closed as it was felt the premises at Custom House on the foreshore were too small for purpose.

It means that those seeking to apply for refugee status must head outside the province.

They are forced to leave the city; they have to go to either Durban or Pretoria or Port Elizabeth just to get an asylum seeker's permit so that they can be legal.

Kaylynn Palm, Reporter - EWN

Failure to be granted refugee status means thousands of foreign nationals struggle to access even the most basic services.

Some of their challenges include getting a job, accessing health services, education for their children.

Kaylynn Palm, Reporter - EWN

We struggle a lot. I'm 12 years now with no documents. It's very difficult for us.

Ramadan Vorster, Foreign national

Last year, the Department of Home Affair said the Department Public Works needed to find appropriate premises for the centre.

For the full interview, click below:


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