Angolan refugees left into ‘legal limbo’

On Wednesday 2013 a group of Africa Unite youth Human Rights Peer Educators met with Mr. William Kreefort of Legal Resource CentreKerfoort 034 in Cape Town. This meeting was initiated by peer educators who were concerned after a deadline for the cessation of Angolan refugee status elapsed before they were able to secure their immigration permits. They continue to await their new documentation as agreed between the Department of Home Affairs, UNHCR and the Angolan Government.

From 1st September 2013 Angolan refugees in South Africa have been made  undocumented migrants. This situation has made them more vulnerable as most of them are now unable to access general services such as banks, hospitals and schools. The scenario has also left them susceptible to arrests by the police, although they have been living in South Africa for more than 15 years and even more.

The vulnerability of unaccompanied Angolan minors was also discussed during the meeting, as those candidates arrived here while they were children – most of them, currently, have difficulty proving their claim to Angolan nationality. They have established a life in South Africa which has become their home – hence, to send them back to Angola would mean that they would then be made a refugee for a second time in their life as most of them are unfamiliar to their native land.

Mr. William Kreefort was thankful to Africa Unite Peer Educators for their concern as young people. He also confirmed that his team is aware about the situation of previous unaccompanied Angolan minors and they will do their best to intervene. Regarding the legal situation of the Angolan refugee, Mr. Kreefort will meet with other advocates in September 2013 to address and explore the way to challenge the Department of Home Affairs.

[picture insert: Mr. William Kreefort (left) and two Peer Educators – Maria Qamata and Brillant Nyambi]

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