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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

Press Statement: Youth Day 2019

Press Statement

 For immediate Release:                                                                                                                                                            16 June 2019.

“Refugee and Migrant Youth Are Youth Too – Says CoRMSA”

 June 16this South Africa’s Youth Day in commemoration of the 1976 Soweto Youth uprising. On this day, thousands of students from Soweto protested in defiance to Bantu Education, which institutionalised Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in schools. The Soweto uprising was a series of demonstrations and protests led by black school children in South Africa that began on the morning of 16 June 1976. Over 20000 protesting students were met by heavily armed police who fired live ammunition on protesting students killing many innocent students. This uprising gave significant strength to the liberation struggle in exposing the brutality of the apartheid state.

South Africa commemorates Youth Day annually in remembrance of the significance of the Soweto uprising and the bravery of those who fought and lost their lives for equality and justice for all in the country. This day consequently changed the social – political dynamics of South Africa.  This commemoration signifies the importance of engaging and supporting  all youth across the country irrespective of their nationality. Youth Day also aims at promoting and restoring relative peace and social stability amongst individuals including asylum seekers, refugees and migrant Youth of all ethnicities in South Africa and around the globe.

On this day, theConsortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CoRMSA), joins the community of South Africa and  rest of the world in commemorating and celebrating the struggle and bravery of the youth of 1976.  For today’s youth, CoRMSA acknowledges their courage and perseverance as they encounter struggles of inequality, poverty, injustice, unemployment and other forms of human rights abuses. The struggle for asylum seekers, refugees and migrant youth continues as they face various forms of human rights violations ranging from denial of access to basic education, health care service, documentations, unlawful arrest and detention to name a few.

CoRMSA calls all government departments, chapter 9 institutions,  and communities at large to build an inclusive South Africa where  young people realise their full potential, free from discrimination and prejudice in order to ensure that every young person regardless of their nationality, ethnicity, language, gender or religious beliefs enjoy and realise their human rights.  This realisation can be farfetched for those youths, living in conflict zones, unstable political situations and adverse family and community environments.

According to available evidence, globally, 1 in every 10 youths live in conflict zones with 24 million youth out of school.  This has led to increasing migration and isolation of youth in societies.It is prudent that the world and South Africa join hands in safeguarding the welfare of youths including asylum seekers, refugees and migrants through the acknowledgment and provision of basic human rights such as access to education, health, employment opportunities and access to legal documentation.

CoRMSA believes that every young person regardless of their nationality should exist in safe and enabling communities, free from xenophobia, discrimination and other intolerances. It is possible to co-exist and together attain economic freedom, social cohesion and enjoy the basic human rights as enshrined in the South African Constitution.

Press Statement: Mr President: Condemn Xenophobic Violence in Durban Kwa-Zulu Natal  – It is Your Fault.

Press Statement                                                                                                                                                   28 March 2019.

For Immediate release:

Mr President: Condemn Xenophobic Violence in Durban Kwa-Zulu Natal  – It is Your Fault.

On the 25thMarch 2019 the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development launched the National Action Plan (NAP) to Combat Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerances. This comprehensive policy document provides measures to prevent, address and combat issues of racism and xenophobia.

A few hours following the launch of this critical document asylum seekers, refugees and migrants living in Inanda Road, South Coast Road, Kenville area, Burnwood area and Greenwood area in Durban Kwa-Zulu Natal have fallen victim to xenophobia. There are approximately 250 migrants including women and children seeking safety at the Sydenham Police Station as results of xenophobic attacks by local communities At 3am on 26thMarch 2018 people began banging on the doors of migrant homes and taking their possessions and belongs. A number of migrants are injured, hospitalised, displaced and are being treated in hospitals. Most of the migrants have lived in this community for up to nine years and are currently destitute and in fear of their lives. Is this democracy Mr. President Cyril Ramaphosa? Mr. President, you may hate foreign nationals (your current statement says a lot) and your hatred does not provide the nation you lead with the right to assault, tortures and attack foreign national living South Africa.  What do you mean when you say “Lets Grow South Africa Together” or is it another electioneering strategy at the expense of foreign nationals to win votes from poor and vulnerable South Africans, Mr. President?

With the NAP now a living document to combat such brutal and inhuman attacks, The Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa is calling upon the President. Cyril Ramaphosa and Deputy Minister of Justice, John Jeffery’s, to step up and harshly condemn these inhuman attacks. We demand the South African Police Services to maintain the peace and bring to books those involved in this brutality and hatred. CoRMSA requests all the local and traditional  leaders including the president to spread and send  a strong warning message  amongst their own as well as South African communities to refrain from such life threatening violence. More importantly, CoRMSA calls on leaders to use the timely National Action Plan to take immediate action in putting in place prevention and combatting measures to ensure this document is enacted and is not a document that is good on paper.

With elections approaching xenophobic statements such of the president and premier of Gauteng province have been on the rise as parties attempt to persuade voters on their current and future successes. Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Migrants have been scapegoated for failing service delivery and systematic issues of corruption, poor planning and mismanagement of public funds intended to benefit the voters. CoRMSA calls for all political party leaders to use accurate and fact based information in their electioneering, rather then pinning blame to a minority of already vulnerable people seeking refuge and protection in South Africa. CoRMSA reminds political leaders that their statements echo into communities and often fuel further xenophobic incidences like what is happening in Durban now. CoRMSA demands that political leaders refrain from using inflammatory and petty politics to gain votes.

For further information, please contact: Ms Abigail Dawson on 074 851 5683/011 403 7560 communications@cormsa.org.za 

Press Statement: National Human Rights Day 2019

National Human Rights Day Press Statement                                                                                         21 March 2019.

For Immediate release:

CoRMSA Calls for a Stop in Scapegoating Migrants for Election Votes”

Endorsed by: Lawyers For Human Rights

In South Africa, the month of March is recognised as National Human Rights Month. The 21stMarch of each year being celebrated as a public holiday (Human Rights Day) to commemorate the Sharpeville Massacre, which took place on this day in 1960. In addition this day is distinct in celebrating the human rights recognised in the Constitution that took effect for all in South Africa following the 1994 democratic elections.

This year on the 8thMay, South Africans will exercise their right to vote in electing the political leader/s they believe carry their hopes forward for a better South Africa, dignity and justice for all. Already, politicians through their political parties’ mandates have started canvasing and electioneering for votes from ordinary South Africans.  In the past few weeks and months, CoRMSA has witnessed and is concerned that politicians are scapegoating migrants to mask failures to deliver and implement policies.

The xenophobic rhetoric is barbaric. Electioneering statements and comments from political leaders are directed to foreign nationals blaming them for collapsing public services such as health, education and housing. Failure to deliver critical basic services to allin South Africa cannot be blamed on foreign nationals just to win votes from poor and vulnerable voters. The rhetoric of electioneering statements and false comments fuel xenophobia and divisions in communities with voters believing that poor service delivery is caused by the presence of foreign nationals in their communities. We call on the media to critical of what leaders say. Instead of just reporting false unsubstantiated statements, politicians need to account for corruption, self-indulgence , greediness and a dismal effort to effectively implement policies. This is the real cause of poor if not non-existent service delivery in our communities. It cannot be correct and accepted that 25 years into democracy, South Africa is still debating poverty and poor service delivery in communities where South African and foreign nationals live.

CoRMSA calls for an end to electioneering that is at the expense of already vulnerable groups of people (foreign nationals) and to respect the human rights for all who live in South Africa. CoRMSA calls for politicians to speak about measures they will be taking to ensure that the Bill of Rights is a living document that is respected and informs policy formulation and implementation. The preamble to the Constitution states clearly that South Africa belongs to all who live in it. Respect for human rights and human dignity is enshrined in our Constitution for everyone including asylum seekers, refugees and migrants who live in the republic without prejudice based on nationality, race, gender or religion. Politicians should focus on challenging and addressing xenophobia and discrimination in communities rather than fueling such social ills just to win votes. Deliver on your Constitutional mandate.

CoRMSA further calls upon the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to monitor the behaviour and public statements of political leaders to make sure that the behavior is within the IEC Code of Conduct of not promoting hate speech, fueling violence and statements which are discriminatory in nature. There has to be consequences for such infringements. CoRMSA also calls upon the South African Human Rights Commission to make sure that political statements are free from xenophobia and racism. Such statements only create a space where violence flourishes.

For further information, please contact:  Ms Abigail Dawson on 074 851 5683/011 403 7560 communications@cormsa.org.za 

04 February – 10 February 2019

This week CoRMSA and its member organisations are organising 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.

06 January 2019

Abigail Dawson will be attending the launch of the Hub Cities initiative in Southern Africa a relocation programme for human rights defenders at risk on the African continent. The meeting will bring together civil society organisations and academic actors to design an action plan for the implementation of the initiative in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Pretoria.

08 January 2019

Muluti Phiri will be attending the  Save The Children provincial steering committee meeting on unaccompanied and separated migrant children at the Department of Social Development offices in Pretoria.

09 February 2019

CoRMSA will be hosting a workshop for Children in Migration at  Johannesburg Child Welfare Office at Drill Hall. This workshop will focus on access to documentation and statelessness for children.  Children will be developing their own campaigns to make their voices heard in our advocacy efforts. This workshop will be followed by a film screening with the children and their parents.

Whats Happening This Week?

28th January- 3rd February 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.

28th January 2019

The CoRMSA team will be doing a site visit to the Desmond Tutu Refugee Centre in Marabastad Pretoria. This visit will allow further monitoring and analysis of the experiences of service users. Further intervention and advocacy will be planned from this visit.

29th January 2018

Thifulufheli Sinthumule and Abigail Dawson will be attending a Public Dialogue hosted by the Southern African Liaison Office in Pretoria. The dialogue is a multi-stakeholder Dialogue on the Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill. Deadlines for submissions to the Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill are on the 15th February 2019. CoRMSA will be drafting and finalising our submissions in the coming weeks.

1st February 2018

Abigail Dawson and Muluti Phiri will be attending a training hosted by Lawyers For Human Rights on legal identity and statelessness at their office in Braamfontein.

Press Statement: International Migrants Day

Press Release:

For Immediate release:                                                                                                                            18 December 2018

#WithDignity: CoRMSA celebrates the dignity and achievement of migrants in South Africa.

December 18th marks International Migrants Day. This day is  celebrated annually since 2000 in commemorating the adoption of the international convention on the protection of the rights of all migrant workers and members of their families in 1990. The theme for this years (2018) International Migrants Day is ‘Migration with Dignity’ #WithDignity.

The UN proclamation of the International Migrants’ Day was an important step in offering a rallying point for everyone across the world who is concerned with the protection of migrants.  UN member states, intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations are encouraged to observe this day by disseminating information on human rights and fundamental freedoms of migrants, sharing experiences, and undertaking action to ensure their protection.

Migration is a growing phenomenon and it could make a positive contribution to development both in the countries of origin and destination provided it is supported by the right policies.  Therefore,  respect for the fundamental rights and freedoms of all migrants is essential to  realise the benefits of international migration. Migrants do not only bring their suitcases, they contribute to economic growth and human development; they enrich societies through cultural diversity, knowledge and cultural exchange. This evidently shows that with the right policies in place, South Africa could benefit significantly from a diversity of migrants within its borders.

While migration is envisaged to bring a positive and empowering experience for both migrants and receiving countries, many migrants  endure human rights violations, xenophobia, and exploitation. The International Migrants Day reminds us of the importance of all stakeholders and advocates to promote and protect the fundamental rights of all persons, regardless of their migration status, nationality, race, gender, ethnicity or documentation status, as guaranteed by the international law.

The commemoration of International Migrants Day symbolises the  recognition of migrants’ contributions to the development and well-being of countries globally, including South Africa.  This day provides an opportunity  to raise awareness of migrants’ basic human rights, to demand an end to all forms of abuse and violence against migrants and their families and to hold the South African government accountable in  upholding  the rights of  refugees,migrants and asylum seekers in the country.

This International Migrants Day, The Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CoRMSA) celebrates and acknowledges the positive social, cultural and economic contributions that refugees, migrants and asylum seekers make  to South Africa.   South Africa is marred by a history and  continuous  xenophobic rhetoric and violence.   In light of this,  CoRMSA stands alongside refugees, migrants and asylum seekers in promoting and protecting their rights so they can  live a safe and fulfilling life contributing to South African communities.

CoRMSA wishes that this day  provides a platform for all stakeholders to  advocate for reconciliation and unity in diversity that would lead to harmonious coexistence between migrants and local hosting communities.

For more information contact: Abigail Dawson- Communicatios and Media Officer

Email: communications@cormsa.org.za Cell: 074 851 5683

10th-16th December 2018

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.

10th December

  • 10th of December is International Human Rights Day. Read CoRMSA Press Statement here.
  • The Jesuit Institute South Africa invites you to a documentary film screening and expert panel discussionA Jesuit Institute documentary film — DENIED ACCESS Stories of Forced Migrants in South AfricaPanelists Include;Lusungu Kanyama Phiri – Lawyers for Human Rights, Faith Chirinda-Future Families, Rampe Hlobo-SJ  Global Ignatian Advocacy NetworkFrancis Anyanzu SJ | Migration Studies Research Student – WITS

    RSVP admin@jesuitinstitute.org.za by 6 December 2018.For more information see the Facebook event here

  • The Intergovernmental Conference to Adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration PDF document takes place in Marrakech, Morocco on the 10th and 11th of December, 2018. Watch this video on how migrant right  organisations can use the global compact on migration. Read our blog post here

13 December 2018

CoRMSA in partnership with The City of Joburg is commemorating International Migrants Day by hosting a event titled ‘Celebrating Johannesburgs Migration Story’. This event brings together academics, activists, local and migrants community members to acknowledge and celebrate the social and economic contributions that migration has had to Johannesburg City. Read the concept note and follow our social media pages for updates on the day.