Refugees protesting about stay in South Africa face two options

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Hundreds of refugees and asylum seekers who spent more than a year protesting about their stay in South Africa have now been given two weeks to decide if they want to remain in the country or be repatriated to countries of origin.

This emerged from Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi’s media briefing in Pretoria on Monday. Motsoaledi said the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) offered to pay a three-month rent for those who want to be re-intergrated into local communities.

“If they take that option of settling in communities where they come from, the UN will be giving them three months food vouchers,” he said.

The minister said that the International Organization for Migration also offered to pay for plane tickets of those who want to be repatriated to countries of their origin.

Motsoaledi said 121 protestors have accepted the offer for voluntary repatriation and 390 have accepted the offer of reintegration with communities.

“We are giving these offers a chance to unfold for two weeks from April 15,” he said, adding that this was the last time the group was being given an opportunity to decide about their future because the situation had been allowed to continue for a long time.

“The tents will be removed and whoever is left on the streets will be dealt with by the law enforcement agency according to the law,” he said.

Hundreds refugees camped outside the UNHCR offices in Pretoria and Cape Town since September 2019, saying their lives were no longer safe in South Africa following xenophobic attacks.

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