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Bellville refugees reject both reintegration and repatriation as campsite closes

20 April 2021 2:11 PM
Tags:
UNHCR
Cape Town refugees
Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi
repatriation
Bellville refugee camp

Refugee leader Hafiz Mohammed says the refugees housed at Paint City in Bellville do not accept the final offer made by the Home Affairs Dept.

Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi on Monday announced that government can either repatriate refugees or reintegrate them into local communities.

The minister has reiterated that moving them to a third country is not an option.

Refugees and asylum-seekers have been living at two temporary shelters located at Paint City in Bellville and Wingfield Military Base in Kensington since the start of the Covid-19 lockdown.

However, the two tented camps will close down at the end of April when amenities are removed from the sites.

The refugees and asylum seekers have two weeks to decide whether they want to be repatriated to or reintegrate into local communities with the option of three months' rent and food from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Bellville leader Hafiz Mohammed tells CapeTalk that refugees living at the Bellville site do not accept either option.

He says they are prepared to face arrest.

We are refugees. We have no choice, we have no country.

Hafiz Mohammed, refugee leader in Cape Town

If they want to arrest everybody, people are ready to be arrested.

Hafiz Mohammed, refugee leader in Cape Town

All the refugees, in Bellville especially, they don't want to go back to communities and they don't want to go back to their home countries. It's the final decision.

Hafiz Mohammed, refugee leader in Cape Town

If they want to take away the tents and facilities, they can take it... we'll just sleep under the sun.

Hafiz Mohammed, refugee leader in Cape Town

The Home Affairs Minister said you have to go back to the community [reintergration] or you have to go back home to your home country. There were only two choices... From the refugees' side in Bellville especially, they rejected the two conditions. We want safety.

Hafiz Mohammed, refugee leader in Cape Town

When we started the protests from UNHCR offices in Pretoria and Cape Town we demanded from the beginning that we are not safe in South Africa.

Hafiz Mohammed, refugee leader in Cape Town

We protested asking to be taken to any safe space where UNHCR feels we'll be safe.

Hafiz Mohammed, refugee leader in Cape Town

Listen to the update on The Midday Report with Lester Kiewit:




20 April 2021 2:11 PM
Tags:
UNHCR
Cape Town refugees
Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi
repatriation
Bellville refugee camp

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