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Saturday, July 2, 2022

Refugees in South Africa seek resettlement due to xenophobia

Dozens of refugees camping outside the UN refugee agency office say they have lived in South Africa for two decades, but no longer feel safe.

Most are from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where they survived the war.
But increasingly, they say their small businesses have been robbed, homes looted and personally attacked amid rising waves of xenophobia.

Lillian Nyota has been a refugee in South Africa since 2001.

“We fled our country, fleeing the tribulations,” she said. “We came here in South Africa, we found more trouble, more suffering. Because xenophobic attacks are real, xenophobia is real, no one can deny that. It’s real.”

South Africa is home to more than 250,000 asylum seekers. The group of invitees said they moved from one community to another, but eventually violence ensues.

She said they are now asking that the UN refugee agency take them to a safe third country.

“Any place they can take us, we can be safe with our families,” said the invitation. “We can live and move on with our lives so that our kids can go to school.”

Xenophobic violence has become increasingly apparent in South Africa with an explosion of riots and killings since 2008.

Earlier this year, amid a wave of anti-migrant marches, a Zimbabwean man was killed in Johannesburg township, officials say because of his nationality.

FILE – Members of “Operation Dudula” raise anti-migrant slogans as they march in Durban on April 10, 2022. Protesters in South Africa have demonstrated against undocumented migrants in what they have dubbed Operation Dudula, Zulu, to “drive back”.

Experts attribute this problem to the violence of the country’s history, socio-economic issues and growing anti-foreign politics.

With xenophobic violence, there is usually no distinction between refugees or asylum seekers, said Silindile Millillo, a researcher at the University of the Witwatersrand.

“If the government is not seen to be doing anything, it also discourages migrants and refugees who are in the country, because it is, is it safe for me?” Milo said.

Resettlement is not an option for most refugees.

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said that globally only 1 percent of refugees are moved from one host country to another in exceptional circumstances.

UNHCR South Africa spokeswoman Laura Padoan said it is only the most vulnerable refugees who are usually eligible for resettlement.

“They could be survivors of sexual or gender-based violence. It could be women and children at risk, people at risk because of their religious persecution,” Padoan said. “We are really looking for local integration or repatriation from these refugees. Urge to take the offer, because no one wants to see people on the street.”

But outside his office, these refugees say reuniting is not an option and say they will camp there until there are plans for them to leave South Africa.

This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.

World Nation News Desk
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