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Migration and Displaced Persons

Migration and Displaced Persons

There is a growing ill sentiment towards migrants especially in the countries that are categorised as host or migrant receiving countries. This has resulted in more stringent measures to deter potential immigrants. Since 1994, South Africa has become a magnet for people from all over sub-Saharan Africa, but especially from countries that have suffered war, dictatorship, or natural disaster. It is estimated, for example, that there are more than two million Zimbabweans living in South Africa; and there are very large communities of Angolans, Congolese, Rwandans and Burundians. Although refugees and asylum-seekers account for the largest proportion of foreigners, people have also come from stable and peaceful countries, hoping to find improved economic circumstances in South Africa. The government has not always known clearly how to deal with this phenomenon. There have been several amendments to the Immigration Act 13 of 2002 since it came into operation; the problem is not so much the number of changes but rather the fact that it is not certain what the government hopes to achieve with its immigration policy. The amendments to this act together with those contained in the Refugees Amendment Bill and the shift of the Department of Home Affairs from the social cluster to the security cluster show a tougher policy approach to migration.

The picture is further complicated by the lack of accurate information on the trends in migration both locally and internationally. The images will continue to advocate for humane treatment of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers by monitoring policy developments and implementation of current policies. As this proposal is being written the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs is yet to finalise the Refugees Amendment Bill, the Immigration Amendment Bill and the Counter Trafficking in Persons Bill.

Finally, 2013 will mark 5 years since the horrendous xenophobic attacks across several townships in South Africa and it will be important to access the impact of the interventions or lack thereof by government to combat such acts of intolerance. The 2011 African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) Monitoring Project gave South Africa the lowest possible rating on xenophobia due to its handling of the 2008 attacks and subsequent hostility towards foreigners.

The Sub-themes for this project are:

  • Human Trafficking
  • Refugees
  • Economic Migration