Category Archive Uncategorized

Press Statement: International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

For Immediate Release:                                                                                                               25 November 2019.

“CoRMSA Says No to violence against Women and Children”.

2019 Global Theme. #orangetheworld:  Uniting to end violence against women and girls on the move.

November 25this commemorated around the world as the International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women. Through resolution 54/134 passed in 1999, the United Nations General Assembly designated 25 November as a day to bring public awareness and collaborative intervention towards eliminating violence against women and girls. This resolution provides an opportunity to raise awareness and call attention to the urgent need to end violence against women and girls.   The 25thNovember also marks the start of 16 days of activism against Gender Based Violence leading up to International Human Rights Day –10 December.

The 2019 theme for International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women is ‘Orange the World: Generation Equality Stands Against Rape’.  This theme would not have come at better time when violence against women and girls has become one of the most widespread violations of human rights in South Africa and rest of the world. The 2013 World Health Organisations global study indicates that, 35 per cent of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual violence.  Similarly, asylum seekers, refugees, migrant women and girls face specific challenges and protection risks in transit as well as in host communities; these include physical harm and injury, exploitation and gender-based violence.  Available evidence indicates that, in South Africa, most migrant women cited gender-based or sexual violence as one of their top threats (Institute for Security Studies Report -2018).

Violence against all women and girls regardless of their nationality or documentation statuses has received international and local attention with statistics of gender based violence (GBV) in South Africa rapidly increasing, most recently resulting in local protests of Total Shutdown Movement in Sandton, Johannesburg and around the country. These campaigns make public the violence which is often silenced and stigmatized and provides space for all women to stand in solidarity and share their experiences of violence and theneed for effective legislative changes and enforcement of these to address the widespread issues.

On this day, the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CoRMSA), recognises the plight of women and girls on the move. It is significant to note that asylum seeker, refugees and migrant women and girls experience violence as intersectional and multi-layered. Women in migration are particularly vulnerable during their transit to seek protection or a better life as they endure many forms of human rights abuses, both emotional and physical.  Reported incidences often include sexual violence, labour exploitation, xenophobia and discrimination. Women in migration face further violence and silencing, as they will often not report incidences of violence for fear of experiencing further victimisation and deportation as a result of their nationality and documentation status.

In commemorating this day, (CoRMSA) joins the rest of the world in calling for unity and action against violence against women and girls andmore concerted efforts to stop violence against women and girls on the move.  CoRMSA also calls for those involved in gender based violence to be held accountable before the court of law.  In this regard, CoRMSA applauds President Cyril Ramaphosa for unveiling an emergency action plan to combat violence against women and children, including his directive to the National Assembly and the National Council to provinces to prioritize amendments to various pieces of laws to ensure stiff and harsher sentences to perpetrators of violence against women and children. Take action and protect Women and children with No harm.

For inquiries or more information please contact: Thifulufheli Sinthumule (CoRMSA) thifulufheli@cormsa.org.za/+27 71 358 0059 or Muluti Phiri (CoRMSA) advocacy@cormsa.org.za/+27711500113 or Abigail Dawson (CoRMSA)  communications@cormsa.org.za/ +27748515683

Press Statement: Universal Childrens Day 2019

For Immediate Release:                                                                                                                                                           

20 November 2019.

Universal Children’s Day:  Upholding the rights of children in migration

Universal Children’s day is celebrated annually on 20thNovember.  This day was established in 1954 to promote international togetherness, rights awareness among children worldwide, and improving children’s welfare.  November 20th is an important day as it is also a date in 1959 when the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. It is also the date in 1989 when the UN General assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The convention sets out a number of children’s rights such as the right to be protected from violence and discrimination and the right to life, health and education.

This day aims to bring awareness and solidarity with children from around the world who have experienced violence in form of abuse, exploitation, discrimination based on their nationality, race, ethnicity, language and documentation status.

Despite South Africa having progressive policies, legislation and being a signatory to a number of international conventions, there are challenges with regards to the implementation of such legislation. For instance, the South African Constitution guarantees access to basic education – Chapter 2, Section 29 of the Constitution states that, “Everyone has the right to a basic education, including adult basic education”.  It is clear that both international and domestic policies guarantee rights to all children irrespective of nationality or documentation status.

On this day, CoRMSA brings attention to the plight of children in migration in South Africa. Children in migration are particularly vulnerable and prone to discrimination with their lives fully dependent on the acquisition of documentation such as birth certificates, asylum permits, refugee status or study permits.  Children in migration continue to face discrimination and numerous barriers in accessing basic services, such as enabling documentation, health and education.   Documentation for children in migration is fundamental for children’s protection and in accessing critical basic services.   It is their constitutional and fundamental right to have access to these services.

While Universal Children’s Day encourages each one of us to advocate, promote and protect children’s rights in order to build a better world for children, such, should not be limited to this day alone but a continuous struggle for justice. CoRMSA calls upon government, civil society organisations, faith-based organisations, communities/leaders and all relevant authorities to take an important stance in ensuring that the rights of children in migration and children in general are respected, promoted and upheld.

For inquiries or more information please contact: Thifulufheli Sinthumule (CoRMSA) thifulufheli@cormsa.org.za/+27 71 358 0059  or Muluti Phiri (CoRMSA) advocacy@cormsa.org.za/+27 711500113 or Abigail Dawson (CoRMSA)  communications@cormsa.org.za/ +27748515683

Press Statement: International Day For Tolerance

Press Statement:

For Immediate Release:                                                                                 16thNovember 2019.

International Day for Tolerance: Upholding the Human Rights of Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Migrants. 

International Day for Tolerance was established by the United Nations in 1996 to be a reminder of the principles that inspired the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948.  This day is aimed at spreading a value – tolerance – which is central to universal human rights and fundamental freedoms.

This day is significant in the current era characterised byrising xenophobia, widespread violence, growing intolerances, injustice and human rights violations, largely characterized by a fundamental disregard for human rights, against refugees, asylum seekers and migrants.

South Africa’s history is marked by institutionalized and societal intolerances. Under apartheid, immense discrimination and violence were instituted against black South Africans.  The apartheid legacy continues into contemporary South Africa.  Non- nationals fleeing poverty, violence and seeking out a better life in South Africa are the victims of everyday marginalization and discrimination.  The recent looting of non-nationals’ shops, massive destruction of property and killings in different parts of the country reminded us yet again, of the deep-rooted attitudes of prejudice and xenophobia against refugees, asylum seekers and migrants living in South Africa.

On this day, The Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CoRMSA) is calling on all government leaders, relevant authorities and South African citizens to desist from negative perceptions and attitudes towards refugees, asylum seekers and migrants.  Instead, welcome and aim to strengthen social cohesion between host communities and refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, ensuring that their fundamental rights as laid out in Chapter 2 of the Constitution are realized and make available efficient services to provide them legal stay in South Africa.

It is therefore, important that we all commit ourselves to effectively promote and protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all migrants regardless of their documentation status and work towards the inclusion and recognition of the value that refugees, asylum seekers and migrants bring to South Africa.

 

For inquiries or more information please contact: Thifulufheli Sinthumule (CoRMSA) thifulufheli@cormsa.org.za/+27 71 358 0059  or Muluti Phiri (CoRMSA) advocacy@cormsa.org.za/+27711500113 or Abigail Dawson (CoRMSA)  communications@cormsa.org.za/+27748515683

 

What’s Happening This Week

30th September- 4th October 2019

This week CoRMSA and its member organisations are organizing and apart of various activities and events in forwarding our mandate to promote and protect the human rights of refugees, migrants and asylum seekers in South Africa. These include:

01 October 2019

Abigail Dawson and Muluti Phiri are attending an urgent task team meeting regarding xenophobia hosted by Foundation For Human Rights.

02 October 2019

Muluti Phiri , advocacy officer in collaboration with Lawyers For Human Rights (LHR) will be hosting a community dialogue in Orange Farm discussing matters relating to xenophobia, migration and documentation.

CoRMSA is a member of the reference team for joint research project by African Centre For Migration and Society  (ACMS) and International Organisation for Migration (IOM) looking at Migration and Disability. Abigail Dawson will be attending the inception meeting.

03 October 2019

CoRMSA will be attending the Ruth First Memorial Lecture at the University of Witswaterand where Achille Mbembe will deliver the lecture titled:  Migrancy and Populism: Is our politics normalising the language of xenophobia

04 October 2019

The CoRMSA Team will be attending and participating at Open Society Foundations South Africa (OSF-SA) meeting on xenophobic violence

 

 

Heritage Day Press Statement: Embracing asylum seekers, refugees and migrants

For Immediate Release:                                                                                                                              24 September 2019.

Heritage Day Press Statement: Embracing asylum seekers, refugees and migrants

The month of September is commemorated and celebrated as the National Heritage Month.                 24th September in South Africa is National Heritage day, where South Africans celebrate their culture and the  diversity of beliefs and traditions in a wider context of a nation that belongs to all who live in it.

Heritage day should aim to unite South African communities regardless of nationality  through cultural diversity in order to promotepeace, social cohesion, reconciliation and economic development,free from prejudice, hatred, xenophobia and other intolerances. This day is meant for all the people living in the country including Asylum Seekers, Refugees and Migrants. It offers a unique opportunity for all people to celebrate, embrace  and learn from a diversity.

This year’s heritage month is being celebrated  under the theme, “Celebrating South Africa’s literary classics in the year of indigenous languages”.   Unfortunately, for asylum seekers , refugees and  migrants there is little or indeed no cause tojoin in thecelebrations.   What was witnessed in the recent past weeks was inconceivable! The Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa(CoRMSA),  strongly condemns the  xenophobic attacks  on non-nationals and the subsequent looting and destruction of mainly foreign owned shops by locals  in different parts of the country.  This behavior fueled by generalized myths and negative perceptions about  migrants, saw loss of many innocent lives  and displacement of  numerous non-nationals among them vulnerable women and children.

We pose a question of Ubuntu and ask all south Africans to celebrate this Heritage Day by  embracing social cohesion with refugees, asylum seekers and migrants. This is what Ubuntu is meant to be!

South Africa’s rich and diverse heritage, including a  progressive and respected Constitution can manage to find a lasting solution to end all forms of discrimination based on people’s origins. With concerted political will, we believe that these xenophobic violence and attacks and massive destruction of property,  can be prevented and lasting solutions implemented.

CoRMSA urges all people living in South Africa, including asylum seekers, refugees and migrants  to boldly celebrate our diverse  cultural heritage in unity.

For inquiries or more information please contact: Thifulufheli Sinthumule (CoRMSA) thifulufheli@cormsa.org.za/+27 71 358 0059  or Muluti Phiri (CoRMSA) advocacy@cormsa.org.za/ +27711500113 or Abigail Dawson (CoRMSA)  communications@cormsa.org.za/+27748515683

Letter to President Ramaphosa to Intervene in Violence

 To: President Matamela Cyril Ramphosa 

Re: Request for your immediate political intervention on recent lootings, xenophobia and displacement of foreign nationals in the country. 

I write on behalf of the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CoRMSA). CoRMSA is a national network of twenty-five (25) organisations whose main objectives and mission are the promotion and protection of the human rights of asylum seekers, refugees and other international migrants in ways that promote the well-being of all in South Africa and the region. Our mandate is to promote and protect the rights of asylum seekers, refugees (persons of concern) and other international migrants in South Africa. This mandate is achieved by advocating for the rights of asylum seekers, refugees and international migrants through lobbying, litigation, capacity building, and strengthening partnerships between refugee and migrant service providers to facilitate an improved and coordinated service delivery among member organisations and partners. 

We aim to foster social cohesion through public awareness campaigns and other strategies and facilitate the integration of asylum seekers, refugees, and international migrants into the South African society. 

As CoRMSA, we are deeply concerned about the recent and recurring spate of xenophobia against foreign nationals and lootings of foreign owned shops. These have lead to the loss of lives, displacement of persons of concern, and significant socio-economic impacts related to property damage. These acts represent a fundamental violation of human rights and disrespect for basic human dignity. We are concerned that if such acts are not addressed, they will further deepen and victimise vulnerable groups such as asylum seekers, refugees and migrants living in South Africa. 

In the aftermath of your successful appointment as the President of the Democratic Republic of South Africa, we look to you to lead this country to greater heights as a safe space for all, free from hatred, discrimination and related intolerance based on one’s nationality. 

We are therefore writing to request your strong and immediate political intervention through the power vested on you as the President of the Democratic Republic of South Africa to publicly condemn these acts of violence, xenophobic attacks, and looting that are underway in Gauteng Province and other parts of the country. CoRMSA urges you to encourage the law enforcement agencies to restore law and order within our communities and to hold those involved in these acts accountable. We ask you to condemn and request all authorities and leaders to refrain from making unverified and unsubstantiated public statements and utterances that promote hatred and divisions amongst South African citizens and foreign nationals. 

CoRMSA believes that social cohesion is not only for South African citizens but for all who live within the republic regardless of their nationality status. We request your office to activate stakeholder and community engagements to promote communities of peace and diversity. CORMSA stands ready to aid your office in this task. 

Please do not hesitate to contact us should you require further information or clarification on this matter. We believe that our request will receive the necessary attention and intervention it deserves from your office. 

Yours Sincerely. 

Thifulufheli Sinthumule (Mr). Executive Director 

Press Statement: Mandela Day 2019

Press Statement

For immediate Release:  18 July 2019                                                                                                                                                                                                     

 ‘To all those who walk the long road to freedom’

18 July 2019 in South Africa and around the globe, is a pivotal point of reflection: 25 years into South Africa’s democracy and Nelson Mandela Day, observing and commemorating one of many people who led South Africa to liberation together with his fellow political accomplices. The Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CoRMSA) respects and acknowledges the heroism and bravery shown by leaders who fought for the liberation for  all South Africans from the oppressive and discriminative apartheid state. However, to this day, millions of South Africans including refugees, asylum seekers and migrants continue to face an oppressive and injust system in which people are denied their basic rights to education, housing, healthcare services, documentation, justice and freedom of movement and assembly based on their economic  and nationality status.

In light of the above, CoRMSA today reflects on Nelson Mandela’s own words:

“The truth is that we are not yet free; we have merely achieved the freedom to be free, the right not to be oppressed. We have not taken the final step of our journey, but the first step on a longer and even more difficult road. For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others. The true test of our devotion to freedom is just beginning.”

Although the fruits of South Africa’s early freedom provided for a progressive and liberal Constitution with a Bill of Rights which claims to ‘enshrine the rights of all people in the republic’, the granting of protection to refugees, asylum seekers, migrants living in South Africa and poor South Africans has been negligible and purposely ignored by those in power. South Africa’s growing negative perception on immigration and refugee protection is mirrioring the global movement towards tighter border restrictions and control of people including unlawful limitation of “rights” granted by the Constitution. This movements stronghold is  held by divisive tactics of which humans are ‘legal’ and ‘illegal’ determined by ones documentation status. On a daily basis asylum seekers who have themselves walked a long road to seek their own safety and freedom in South Africa, and other countries, are denied their right to legality, work and study particularly in South Africa. Approximately 96% of all asylum seeker claims and applications are rejected by the Home Affairs. Reasons for these are often unfounded. This high rejection rate, and inaccesible Department of Home Affairs and widespread xenophobic attitude has made daily life for migrants, refugees and asylum seekers treacherous and miserable, often leading to a violation of their basic human rights.

On this day, as South Africans, we cannot accept that 25 years into democracy we still find ourselves discriminating, hating, separating, segregating, oppressing, violating each other’s human rights, subjecting ones life to misery based on their nationality status. We ought to remember that our freedom was not fought alone, we have all walked a long road. The injustices we face are not faced alone and it is the next path to freedom that should be fought together with all those who live in South Africa.

CoRMSA calls for all South African to stand together and strive for better freedom, protection and united South Africa of All who live in South Africa with No prejudice and hatred based on one’s nationality. Our Constitution Preamble clearly stated that “South Africa Belongs to All Who Live in It”

For further information please contact Ms. Abigail Dawson (Communications and Media Officer) 0748515683/0114037560. Email: communications@cormsa.org.zaor Mr. Thifulufheli Sinthumule (Director) on 071 358 0059. Email:thifulufheli@cormsa.org.za.

Press Statement: World Refugee Day 2019

Joint World Refugee Day  Press Statement                                                                                     20 June 2019

For Immediate Release

“Everyone Should Take a Step With Refugees”.

 

Over the last ten years, South Africa’s response to refugees, asylum seekers and vulnerable people seeking refuge in our country has seen a dramatic deterioration. The extent of litigation is reflective of the fact that the Constitution is trampled on by law enforcement agents addressing immigration and movement of people in South Africa. We see little change in the state of crisis in the asylum system and the management movement of vulnerable people in the region. So once again human rights and respect for human dignity remains a privilege to be bought and paid for if you are rich.

 

A year ago to this day Lawyers for Human Rights wrote an open letter to the President. The letter set out the kind of blockages in the system that makes it impossible for refugees and asylum seekers to access documentation at any of the Refugee Reception Centres in the country.  The crisis in the Asylum system is directly related to a failure by our government especially the department of Home Affairs to put in place a policy that ensures movement of people in the country is managed while ensuring that the basic human rights and human dignity of every person in our country is respected [as enshrined in our Constitution].  We continue to witness infringements of these rights through exclusion and through unlawful practices by government officials who are meant to be promoting and enforcing these rights . We are seeing an increase in the practice of unlawful arrests and deportation of predominantly Black African foreign nationals. So arrest and deportation at both a human and financial cost is used as the main policy to manage movement and forced migration. Last year CoRMSA was part of a protest at the Lindela Repatriation Centre to denounce the use of detention as a tool to manage migration and to expose the plight of people in detention. Over the years, Civil Society has been ignored by the Department of Home Affairs and the relevant authorities on matters relating to migration and human rights violation. As members of the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa, we are concerned that the Department of Home Affairs has had six changes in the post of Minister of Home Affairs in a period of five years.

 

This year’s World Refugee Day takes place against the back drop of growing calls for a global emergency climate crisis to be declared. In this context, while the UN Global Compact for Migration was launched at a meeting in Marrakesh, Morocco in December 2018, recognized that the climate crisis is a driver of migration. Yet States are under no obligation to recognize the protection needs of climate refugees. To date, South Africa is yet to sign on to African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa (Kampala Convention).

As we embrace and observe World Refugee Day in 2019 under the global theme of #StepWithRefugees— Take A Step on World Refugee Day, it appears as though the world and its leaders, including SA, are carrying on with business as usual forgetting to honour the courage, strength and determination of women, men and children who are forced to flee their homes under threats of persecution, conflict and violence . Africa which has been raped and pillaged for its resources during the colonial era, is now having to suffer severe consequences of climate crisis, a universal phenomenon.  Research published earlier this month in the scientific journal Nature Communications provides data and analysis based on forecasts of rainfall in Africa. Researchers are quoted stating that “Africa is one of the parts of the planet that is going to be most vulnerable to climate change. Our study of rainfall patterns shows there are going to be some very severe problems to face food security and dealing with droughts.”[i]

 We need an international plan backed up with resources to address the needs of climate refugees. In Southern Africa there is little if any disaggregated data to know what is causing the displacement both internally and across boarders and increasing numbers of destitute vulnerable populations.

 

We are making the following call to South Africa and the State and all nations of the world, as we mark World Refugee Day.

  • Address urgently the crisis and related corruption in the asylum system in South Africa;
  • Implement an accessible SADC visa to ensure safe movement in the region which is managed.
  • Recognize the plight and protection needs of people fleeing as a consequence of drought, and related consequences of the climate crisis, your so called “economic migrants”. We need political will to declare an emergency climate crisis.
  • For host communities to welcome refugees to their own communities, and to counter narratives that would seek to exclude and marginalize refugees and other displaced people.
  • And the Media to inform and educate listeners, readers and viewers about the reality and plight of refugees in South Africa and the continent.

[i]https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/jun/14/africa-global-heating-more-droughts-and-flooding-threat

 

In honouring the courage, strength, resilience and struggle that refugees face, CoRMSA, Lawyers For Human Rights, Amnesty International South Africa and Constitution Hill will be hosting an event ‘Building a Freedom Charter for Africa’, followed by a film screening of The Workers Cup at Constitution Hill, Human Rights Conference Room, Old Fort, Constitution Hill. EventDate: 20 June 2019, 9:00-13:00.

 

Joint statement by:  Lawyers for Human Rights, Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa, Amnesty International South Africa, Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town, Wits Law Clinic, Pro-Bono.org, Refugee Pastoral Care, Refugee Social Services, Jesuit Refugee Services and Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.

 

For inquiries or more information please contact: Abigail Dawson (CoRMSA) communications@cormsa.org.za/ +27748515683or Sharon Ekambaram (Lawyers For Human Rights) sharone@lhr.org.za/+27836348924 or Thifulufheli Sinthumule (CoRMSA) +27 71 358 0059/ thifulufheli@cormsa.org.za

Whats Happening This Week?

17 June- 23 June 2019

This week CoRMSA and its member organisations are organizing and apart of various activities and events in forwarding our mandate to promote and protect the human rights of refugees, migrants and asylum seekers in South Africa.

17 June 2019

17 June is a public holiday in recognising Youth Day. Please read CoRMSA Press Statement here.

Muluti Phiri, Advocacy Officer will be apart of a global, live conversation with the #BTeamWomen. The theme for this discussion is, The Invisible Women: In search of safety beyond borders. Join the conversation here:

19 June 2019

Muluti Phiri, Adovicay Officer will be participating at the adovicay framing workshop organised by African Centre For Migration and Society and partners. The workshop is themed: Migrating out of Poverty advocacy framing workshop: The migration of Ethiopian entrepreneurs and Zimbabwean domestic workers in South Africa.

Abigail Dawson, Communications and Media Officer will be attending a roundtable on  the experience of unaccompanied and separated migrant children organised by Lawyers for Human Rights.

20 June 2019

The 20th June 2019 is World Refugee Day. To commemorate this day CoRMSA in partnership with Amnesty International, Lawyers for Human Rights and Constitution Hill will be hosting an panel discussion to draft a Freedom Charter for Africa. This will be followed by a film screening of The Workers Cup as part of the Other Peoples Festival organised by Refugee Social Services, Durban.

Details for the event can be found here.

21 June 2019

CoRMSA is a partner for the Refugee Concert organised by Turquoise Institute. There is great line-up which will celebrate Refugees living in South Africa. Details of show and tickets can be found here