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Minister of Home Affairs, Aaron Motsoaledi tells parliament that refugees want to go to Canada. / Image via: ‘Archive Photo.’

Aaron Motsoaledi: Foreign nationals in SA want to go to Canada

Home Affairs Minister, Aaron Motsoaledia tells parliament that foreign nationals want to go to Canada, rather than to their own countries.

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Minister of Home Affairs, Aaron Motsoaledi tells parliament that refugees want to go to Canada. / Image via: ‘Archive Photo.’

As reported by SABC News, Home Affairs Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi confirmed to the National Assembly on Wednesday, 13 November 2019, that foreign nationals who staged a sit-in at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) offices in Cape Town recently, are refusing to go to their countries of origin but instead, want to be taken to another country-Canada. 

Foreign nationals will not compromise on Canada 

Motsoaledi said the challenges of porous borders will be addressed once the Border Management Authority Bill has been passed. 

“Foreign nationals also refused to be reintegrated with communities in South Africa,” said Motsoaledi. 

“They said there is no way they will stay in South Africa. The commissioner offered to take them to their countries of origin. 

They don’t want to go there, they want to go to another country and that is Canada, nothing more or less,” added Motsoaledi. 

Refugees do not feel safe in SA 

Hundreds of refugees currently staying at the Central Methodist Church in Cape Town have been in talks with various officials on a way forward after they were forcibly and violently removed from a sit-in at the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in October. 

This came after foreign nationals demanded to leave South Africa, claiming they do not feel safe in the midst of ongoing xenophobic attacks. 

Refugees meet with officials to discuss the way forward 

According to Radio 702, refugees and asylum-seekers have met with officials from Home Affairs, the Social Development Department, the UNHCR, the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) and several civil society groups.

The UN Refugee Agency had previously urged foreign nationals in Cape Town to return to their homes in South Africa.

Western Cape SAHRC commissioner, Chris Nissen says they’ve been engaged in “dialogues,” discussing the challenges facing foreign nationals, refugees, and asylum-seekers in the country.

“We’ve had a number of dialogues with civil society and NGOs and other refugee and asylum-seeker forums,” said Nissen. 

Three options for Foreign Nationals 

The three options available for foreign nationals are: 

  • resettlement to another host country
  • reparation to their home countries
  • or reintegration into South African society.

Nissen says it’s been explained to the group that the UNHCR’s resettlement programme only assesses individual cases on a very limited basis.

“Many of them maintain that they would prefer to leave South Africa. The discussions went to and fro around that and in the end, some of them said that they want to leave,” said Nissen. 

Unrealistic objectives 

Early November, the group of foreign nationals rejected humanitarian aid from the Gift of the Givers, after the organisation’s director said their demand to be relocated to another country en masse was “unrealistic.”

Nissen says various government and civil organisations will continue engagements with the group.