What are SA's best options to resolve refugee crisis?

The treatment of foreign nationals in South Africa has been placed firmly back in the spotlight with the forced removal at the end of October of hundreds of people who'd been camping out at the UN refugee agency in Cape Town.

They want help to leave South Africa for a third country in the wake of recent xenophobic attacks and are currently sheltering at the Central Methodist Church.

Foreign nationals wait at the UN Refugee Agency office in Cape Town for assistance in leaving South Africa on 9 October 2019. Picture: Kaylynn Palm/EWN

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has said resettlement is not a realistic option for refugees and asylum-seekers in South Africa.

RELATED: Resettlement of refugees in SA to other countries not possible - United Nations

On Weekend Breakfast, Africa Melane gets the input of Dr Sikanyiso Masuku, post-doctoral fellow at the Institute for Democracy, Citizenship and Public Policy in Africa.

RELATED: Gift of the Givers responds after refugees ban group from CT Methodist church

Masuku says setting up refugee camps, as many African countries have done, would be going against best practise because these people need to have social integration within their host communities.

Along with isolation, he says other problems associated with camps are the risk of disease and dependency syndrome.

Ideally, a self-settlement system as found in South Africa, is designed to allow the refugees to fully partake in the life and the opportunities that are availed in their host communities.

Sikanyiso Masuku, Post-doctoral fellow - Institute for Democracy, Citizenship and Public Policy in Africa

He says lessons can be learned from countries that have efficient self-settlement systems, like Germany, specifically with regard to avoiding the concentration of foreign nationals in just a few places.

Germany have a very efficient self-settlement system where they make sure that there is actual allocation of refugees in terms of which part of the country they go to. That way there is full integration.

Sikanyiso Masuku, Post-doctoral fellow - Institute for Democracy, Citizenship and Public Policy in Africa

Masuku believes South Africa should look at vocational skills development and employment in the low-wage sector after priority checks have been done to assess where opportunities are available and whether jobs would in fact be taken from South African citizens.

Listen to the conversation below:


This article first appeared on CapeTalk : What are SA's best options to resolve refugee crisis?


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