Youth day dialogue: Elevating the African child, leaving no child behind “Agenda 2030”

On June 16th 2020, the Africa Unite Exchange Programme team arranged a youth dialogue via WhatsApp for various leaders in youth engagement. The dialogue attracted more than 83 participants from countries all over Africa, we had participants from South Africa, Malawi, Ghana, Congo, Lesotho, Nigeria, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Madagascar etc. The purpose of the Youth Day dialogue was to deliberate the challenges faced by an African child and to map out solutions to those challenges so that the African child is not left behind the achievement of 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. The theme of the dialogue was “Discourse: Voices and Issues affecting an African child, so he/she is not left behind come 2030.”

One of our Exchange Peer Educators from Malawi facilitated the online dialogue, and she began by contextualizing the importance of this day. She detailed that on June 16th in South Africa, we commemorate the students who lost their lives during the Soweto uprisings on this day in 1991. She also acknowledged the courage of the students who marched for their right to education. She noted that for the Sustainable Development Goals to be achieved children should and cannot be left behind. Overall, the dialogue sought to celebrate an African child, despite the diverse and complex challenges faced.  Moreover, the platform allowed the participants to learn from the past and present leaders and device solutions for the contemporary problems faced by an African child. Our Exchange Peer Educator’s message to the African child was: “I dream of a world where you can laugh, dance, sing, learn and live in peace and be happy.” –  Malala Yousafzai. 

The introduction of the dialogue revolved around the aspirations of a united Africa that supports each other regardless of artificial borders. An Africa that taps into its natural resources and uses those to their advantage to cut dependency and cultivate self-sufficiency. An Africa that does not depend on external funding as those limit Africa to fully achieve her objectives as a continent. An Africa where African children can see it heal and move on from the woundedness that poses a threat to our unity, peace and tolerance.

One significant topic raised during the dialogue was that education is a fundamental instrument to preserve cultural values and beliefs. The transformation of a group’s customs, beliefs, laws and institution can be referred to as social change. Education is key to development and transformation as it facilitates social change to both the individual and the community at large. Teachers are agents of change, training the stimulus, and the students are the recipients and preservers of change.

One of the speakers stated that the United Nations dream to achieve sustainable development has an element of leaving no one behind. That means if Africa has to accomplish these goals, everyone, including an African child, has to be involved.

The dialogue also uncovered an interesting discussion regarding juvenile justice systems. It highlighted that access to child-friendly investigation and fair trial should be created to ensure that African children have access to reasonable judgements. Without child-friendly studies and child-friendly trials, there cannot be talks about access to justice or fair assessment. Therefore, advocating for impartial investigations for an African child to feel free to speak to officials from investigative wings who are trained to handle children and not treat them like criminals is what we ought to do. If and when investigations are friendly, a child will be able to open up easily, thus, leading to a fair trial.

Another challenge of African children revealed during the dialogue centred around an African identity crisis. The African youth does not know who they are. The question was raised of “How do we define ourselves when we are bombarded by a multitude of cultural definitions of our identity?”. The western or developed world aggressively flashes an overwhelming amount of information that more often than not, tells us to define ourselves by external measures, that leads to further confusion on the African child. Before we can know what we are meant to do and how we can help our continent, we must understand who we are as children of Africa. From that point of departure, it will be easy to create, innovate and develop technologies, systems and infrastructure that is uniquely tailored to solve our African challenges.

The responses of the participants demonstrated the need for teaching the African identity as well. The following issue was raised by a participant: “a lot of the social issues at hand come as a result of how we view ourselves, identity and the various levels of this is of utmost importance, we as African changemakers or people vested in the well-being of our people need to start changing the dynamic on a micro and macro scale,” The participants also acknowledged that Africans must learn more about Africa and less about European history through active and innovative learning. Our children must be built to be independent not seeing the western world as a superbeing.

Way Forward:
The group decided the only way to move forward was to agree to lead by example for the future generation. The road ahead lies in education and bringing the youth voice to the table that this was just the start of a movement to advance the African child.

For more information about the dialogue and our programs, please contact,

Nthati Lesaoana,

Human Rights Manager

Tel. +27-21-461-6551
Cell: 076 460 4331

Email: nthati@africaunite.org.za

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Open letter to the Minister of Home Affairs

25 May 2020

THE HONOURABLE MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS

DR. AARON MOTSOALEDI

HALLMARK BUILDING

230 JOHANNES RAMOKHOASE

PRETORIA

By email: Minister@dha.gov.za

CC.

Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor

E-mail: minister@dirco.gov.za

DHA Acting Director General ADG Jackie McKay

E-mail: Jackie.mckay@dha.gov.za

DHA Acting Deputy Director General : Immigration Services

ADDG Modiri Matthews

E-mail: Modiri.matthews@dha.gov.za

The South African Human Rights Commission- Commissioner Angie Makwetla

E-mail: amakwetla@sahrc.org.za

UN Agencies in charge of Migrants (workers) & Refugees

(UNHCR; IOM; ILO)

Dear Dr Motsoaledi

CLASS APPLICATION IN TERMS OF SECTION 30(2) OF THE IMMIGRATION ACT 13 OF 2002 (as amended) (“the Act”)

Introduction

1. The Southern African Migration Network (SAMIN) is a coalition of twenty-five civic society organisations from Southern Africa. The objectives of SAMIN include advocating for the best practices in migration that align with the United Nations international instruments on migration as well as the Africa Union (AU) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) protocols on migration.

2. We wish to address you on behalf of various affected persons who were declared as undesirable persons in terms of Regulation 27(1)(c) of the Regulations to the Act (“the Regulations”) during their repatriations from South Africa under the current Covid-19 Level Four Regulations.

3. In preparation of submission of this application to you, we have consulted various migrants; stakeholders from civic society; religious organisations; community organisations; businesses; activists and other interested parties.

Background

4. It is common cause that South Africa has been a preferred destination for many migrants from Africa, particularly those from SADC. It is perceived as the land of opportunities by entrepreneurs as well as those wishing to pursue formal employment. South Africa is also a hub for cross border traders who travel frequently in and out of the country for acquisition of stock.

5. South Africa was not spared from the Covid-19 Pandemic. On 15 March 2020 the honourable President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster in terms of the Disaster Management Act 57 of 2002 (as amended). Pursuant thereto, the President announced a nationwide lockdown on 23 March 2020 which came into effect on 27 March 2020. As part of the Covid-19 measures, South Africa’s borders were closed from 27 March 2020 for travel except for the return of South African citizens and permanent residents. Many migrants and visitors had visas or permits that were still valid but would expire on or after 27 March 2020. It was clear that many of them would not be able to leave South Africa between 23 March 2020 when the President announced the lockdown and 27 March 2020 when the lockdown commenced. Accordingly, you stated on 25 March 2020 that foreign nationals would not be penalised if their visas or permits had an expiry date falling within the lockdown period. As at date hereof, South Africa remains under lockdown.

6. With the nation’s move from the nationwide lockdown at level five to alert level four, repatriation of non-South African citizens became permissible from 1 May 2020. At that stage, South Africa had been under a hard lockdown for five weeks (“level five lockdown”). Many people lost wages or income from their self-employment making their continued stay in South Africa unsustainable. On the strength of your above-mentioned statement on 25 March 2020, some people opted for repatriation without any concerns about their residency status in the country at the time.

Events which necessitated this Application

7. On 6 May 2020, the first group of people for repatriation to Zimbabwe via the Beitbridge Border Post embarked on their journey. More groups departed thereafter for Zambia, Malawi and other SADC countries. Contrary to what the travellers expected, they were penalised by officials from your department on their departure from South Africa. The affected travellers may be categorised as follows:

7.1. those who were visiting South Africa whose visitors’ visas expired during the level five lockdown;

7.2. those who had temporary residency visas that expired during the level five lockdown; and

7.3. those whose visas or permits expired before the level five lockdown and they were still in the process of legalising their stay in South Africa.

8. To the best of our knowledge, the majority of the travellers were declared undesirable persons for a period of five years in terms of regulation 27(1)(c) of the Act on the basis that they had overstayed for more than thirty days.

Appeal to the Honourable Minister

9. It appears that your assurance to foreign nationals on 25 March 2020 was not reduced to writing in the form of a binding directive to be followed by officials from your department. In the absence of a directive to guide your officials at the Beitbridge Border Post on how to process travellers falling within the categories in paragraphs 7.1 to 7.3 above, the officials were bound by and acted in terms of section 30(1)(h) of the Act. Consequently, they proceeded to declare such travellers as undesirable persons in terms of regulation 27(1)(c) of the Act.

10. As the honourable President has reiterated on many occasions, we are all sailing in unchartered waters. There is a lot of uncertainty for what lies ahead globally. What is clear though is that the status of undesirable person is detrimental. It not only prohibits such persons from entering South Africa but also prejudices them when applying for visas into countries such as the United States of America, Australia, and Schengen states. The undesirable person status is likely to result in their visa applications to other countries being rejected on the grounds that they were once illegal residents in another country, namely South Africa.

11. Today marks the 57th anniversary of the establishment of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), which is commonly referred to as Africa Day. The OAU’s aims included the promotion of political, economic and social integration among African States. The transformation of the OAU into the African Union (AU) on 9 July 2002 was aimed at achieving greater unity, cohesion and solidarity between African countries. This year, South Africa is celebrating Africa month under the theme of “Silencing the Guns, Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development and intensifying the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic”.

12. We respectfully submit that the imposition of an undesirable person status on hundreds of fellow Africans during these unprecedented and extremely trying times for all is simply not aligned with what the founding fathers of the OAU fought for. We further submit that it goes against the spirit of ubuntu – South Africa’s guiding principle of the way others should be treated. In the words of the late father of the nation, Nelson Mandela: “[A] traveller through a country would stop at a village and he didn’t have to ask for food or for water. Once he stops, the people give him food, entertain him. That is one aspect of ubuntu.”. The manner in which the travellers in question were treated certainly cannot promote African unity or deeper regional integration or recommit Africa to a common destiny. Such conduct will prevent the realisation of the AU’s vision of Agenda 2063.

13. In the circumstances, we humbly request that the grounds of undesirability that were issued to foreign nationals who opted for repatriation be waived.

14. We further request that a directive be issued by your offices and duly circulated to all ports of entry. This will ensure a uniform and correct treatment of any further travellers falling within the categories in paragraphs 7.1 to 7.3 above.

Conclusion

15. The Coronavirus Epidemic continues to wreak havoc globally. Many have been hard hit financially and are desperate to once again eke out a livelihood. We therefore cannot over emphasise the urgency of your decision on this issue.

16. We now await receipt of your decision herein.

Yours faithfully,

On behalf of SAMIN,

Mr Zoe Nkongolo, Africa Unite Director

IDASA Building

6 Spin Street

Cape Town, 8001

Tel: 021 4616551/ 083 9588133

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Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures

The outbreak of COVID-19 has created a new order which has seen South Africa taking radical actions in pursuit of containing the spread of the pandemic. South Africa action of calling for the lockdown has further precipitation the disruption of livelihoods within communities, especially the Black disadvantaged communities. With this, Africa Unite School program with its associates have taken a pivotal role in devising practical strategies to respond to the current situation as the current  environment entails shifting from longer-term responses to emergency relief.

Africa Unite School Club program has played a crucial role in the following ways ;

Academic assistance

With the closure of schools since February 2020, the education of learners has been greatly affected. Despite government initiatives to provide other alternatives of shifting to distance learning to reinforce learning and teaching strategies, these have been not been inclusive. Succinctly, government strategies have shortfalls especially looking at scholars who do not have access to the online resources used. As such, AUSC noted this gap and has distributed academic resources for the school club members through providing assistance for grade 8 to grade 12 learners with all subjects. In addition, AUSC has placed priority in subjects which scholars are struggling with such as Mathematics, Physics, Accounting and Biology. These lessons have been compressed and shared virtually through affordable social media platforms to accommodate all learners and their educational needs.  The development of lessons and activities was achieved by tapping into the network of teachers and peer educators who specialize in different subjects to share activities.

Capacity Building

The  responses to the pandemic has also forced AUSC to put all planned activities that involve contact with learners on hold such as the Annual Leadership Camp. The camp involves capacitating  the cabinet members and parliamentarians on their roles and responsibilities in their various portfolios. Although there has been shift of the activities our learners have continued to show show immense leadership and have initiated COVID-19 awareness campaigns using remote mechanisms even with the minimal resources  they have . Thus, the AUSC program has initiated a Teenage Superhero appreciation week which recognises the learners that have displayed leadership as well as encourage meaningful youth activism and leadership. Moreover, the initiatives of the young leaders will be published on AUSC Facebook and WhatsApp page.

Likewise, we have inducted a youth reporters program, which is aimed at capacitating our learners; more so the Presidents and Ministers of Information and Public Relations, to be able to report on the issues their school and communities face. Nonetheless, currently the program is centred on educating the learners on how to collect information from their families and outside sources on their current states during this pandemic. Nevertheless, the hope is for this program to grow into a podcast that our learners will be pioneering.

Community building

Since the focus of the AUSC entails working with communities, a community mapping was imperative to gather a baseline knowledge of the areas our learners come from, especially during this pandemic. Our learners shared information on the various affects the virus and current lockdown has had on them, their parents and fellow community members. The information has been packaged into a booklet which  details their diverse experiences.

Psychosocial support

The current environment has raised so many uncertainties leaving teenagers with anxiety and fear of the unknown, such poses a negative impact on the teenager’s ability to learn as it puts their mental health at risk. Moreover,it has the potential to lead to social and behavioral problems and negative self-concept . With this in mind the AUSC program has curated the Social and Emotional Learning Forum  (SELF) which has developed activities to assist learners with their emotional and mental health during  the pandemic. SELF hosted 3 Zoom sessions which have covered topics such as (1) prioritizing,(2) coping mechanism and (3) setting SMART goals. The SELF activities have managed to reach 42 learners and has been able to assist 20 learners per session with data to participate in the sessions. Through creative expressions learners have been able to utilize other skills,such as art and poetry to support COVID-19 responses.

Regardless of the current state, the AUSC Program will continue to work with our young leaders as we groom them into agents of change in this new normality. Likewise, we invite any partnerships that will assist the youth with their academics and other areas.

We would like to applaud the educators and parents that have been committed to assisting their learners and children in such conditions, your efforts never go unnoticed.

AUSC members performing a virtual stay at home campaign during the quarantine
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COVID-19 & the economy: how the ripples affect us all

On May 14th, 2020, the Africa Unite Human rights team based in Cape Town organised Africa Unites first-ever virtual information session via the video calling application Zoom for Africa Unite Peer educators, to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the economy and on the informal economy, in particular, the title of the session was “Covid-19 & the economy: How the ripples affect us all”.

The objectives of the session were among others to: Discuss the implications of lockdown strategies on the formal and informal sectors, Seeing the informal sector as an important part of the South African economy, the social education taking place during the pandemic in regards to the virus itself, the measures taken and the reaction from the public and how we as Africa Unite staff and peer educators can attempt to play our parts to educate the public and become part of the public discourse and action.

The meeting started at 14h05 PM and was chaired by Mr. Lyle Breda, a project coordinator for Africa Unite.

Lyle Breda began proceedings with a presentation to provide context for the discussion, he showed the statistics of how COVID 19 has affected the world’s economy. Noting that It has also shown us the flaws in our systems, regarding the economy as an ecosystem and that both formal and informal economies are pieces of the same puzzle. He emphasized that a large misconception was to think that we could come out of this pandemic unscathed without ensuring the protection of the informal sector. This may mean a rebirth of Innovation, collaboration, and unity among community members. He finished the presentation stating the contraction of the economy means people are going to lose jobs but not all is bleak and called for people to support one another.

Wonke Mapeyi, a social activist and AU Peer Educator, brought many important points forward such as the increase in xenophobic sentiments towards migrants firstly because of the origin of the virus and secondly the scarcity as a result of economic depression. Mr. Mapeyi also mentioned that many informal traders are either resorting to crime, illegally trading, or not trading at all because permits were not approved and or dispensed to them. There was a positive note, people have started to innovate and create new ways to generate income which has stimulated the local spheres of influence in townships. Mr. Mapeyi is adamant that a wave of social education needs to take place and that civil society needs to increase pressure to educate the public and government officials at various levels on the virus, lockdown levels, and social relief processes.

Tasreeq Ferriera, a law student from the University of the Western Cape, advised on how society has been reluctant to embrace technology at the beginning of this pandemic but now we seem to survive with it using digital platforms to do work and attend school. This can be an opportunity for new entrepreneurs which will call for governments and NGOs to empower people with necessary skills, he has stated however, that this will also see retrenchments as larger companies start digitizing more and more.

Mazeeda Karani, a post-graduate student from the University of Cape Town, asked how people can transition back to stable livelihoods and how peer educators can help in the situation.

Muchulene Peplouw, a social activist and student, expressed her concern for her community of Mannenberg and other communities like hers where people have a total disregard for regulations, the notion is being carried that people in the Flats are more likely to die from gang violence than the virus, she also mentioned that Civil service posts have been closed such as the Police station and local day clinic both citing positive COVID-19 cases.

José Muianga a human rights lawyer from Mozambique specializing in migration issues, conveyed his concern but also interest in the difference in preparation strategies between South Africa and Mozambique stating that the South African market and the economy is more prepared and adjusted to digitizing and supports a more diverse marketplace, however, he also expressed that South Africa also has a higher level of crime which is a major concern. He noted that Mozambique ha failed to do a mass education to prepare its citizens for a pandemic and that the informal sector in Mozambique has largely been devastated by this pandemic and only time will tell where we will find ourselves.

Way Forward

Participants agreed on the following key actions and urgent tasks moving forward:
• Door to door education through pamphlets to create more awareness concerning the pandemic and spread.
• Seek partnerships with the Small Business Council chairperson and related ministries.
• Form a partnership with local radios and news agencies in spreading awareness
• Form task team of peer educators to influence the majority of youth and remaining inactive peer educators
• Organizing an online campaign and establish narrative through social media on the impacts of COVID-19, government responses, and how to adjust in a post-COVID-19 world.

Peer Educators participating in a discussion on the effects of COVID-19 on the economy

We believe that we will face hardships in the months to come but we can and will overcome this if we stand together (proverbially) the opportunity to remould social orders is at hand.

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Following our appeal dated 13th April 2020

Africa Unite is happy to announce that we managed to secure temporary accommodation for Rosy and her Family.

Days of hard work finally paid off when we were able to find a proper place for the family in Delft, Cape Town. During our search, several stakeholders replied to our appeal willing to help the family. A genuine heart-warming gesture. The family received assistance through donations and necessary baby supplies, blankets, mattresses, etc. from a variety of people interested in the cause. The contributions were highly appreciated, especially in this period of general lockdown.

Rosy and her family

Rosy and her new-born baby were officially discharged from the hospital on the 22nd of April 2020. Members of our team safely transported the family from the hospital to their new place in Delft, Cape Town. The collected donations were given to the family and it was truly touching to witness their gratitude. Through mutual effort, we can protect the most vulnerable together.

We continue to help the family by looking for a permanent residence where the entire family can be together.

Rosy and her baby

We would like to extend our sincere gratitude to the good Samaritans that laid a hand during this trying time for Rosy and her family.

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SAMIN webinar on the effects of COVID-19 on migration in the SADC region

On May 1st 2020, The Southern Africa Migration Network (SAMIN), representing various organisations working on Migration in the SADC region, organised a webinar that brought together the core team of SAMIN members in SADC countries, to discuss the challenges facing migrants and refugees during the COVID-19 and mobilize efforts across sectors and SADC countries to deal with the complexities and uncertainties of the COVID-19 on refugees and migrants.

The objectives of the webinar were among others to:
 Assess the current complexity of the migration factors and actors in SADC countries
during the COVID-19
 Discuss the fundamental rights and obligations of migrants, migration management
and protection of migrants and how they are applied in various SADC countries
during the COVID-19
 Share best practices and discuss ways to work together
 Discuss on how to interact with policy makers to advocate for the rights of migrants
and refugees during the pandemic and post COVID-19.

The meeting started at 11:10 AM and was moderated by Joseph E Maniragena, a youth
activist and Development Practitioner.

In his opening remarks, Dr Ken Mutuma, Africa Unite Board Member, welcomed all
participants and thanked them for availing themselves though it was a public holiday; Dr Mutuma described Covid-19 as the most serious health emergency in generations and said it will have adverse effects on livelihoods but when it comes to Migrants, it will be worse. He reiterated that SAMIN should be a learning organisation which can be able to adapt due to various circumstances such as the pandemic of Covid-19. Dr Mutuma reflected on challenges being faced by grassroots communities and mostly Migrants and Refugees who don’t get support from host governments. He ended his intervention citing some of the Africa Unite interventions such as at how they are looking at supporting with food parcels for families facing starvation.

The next speaker was Dr Jean Pierre Misago, a researcher with the African Centre for
Migration & Society (ACMS) at the University of the Witwatersrand who shared with
participants some of the work being done by the ACMS during this time such as measuring various policies being declared in SADC countries to contain the pandemic and their implications to refugees and migrants; Some of their findings confirm that migrants are being discriminated when it comes to support such as food parcels or health services; they have also noticed increasing in wrongful arrests; and when it comes to undocumented migrants, for them it is worse; no one is caring for them; Dr Misago concluded saying that for the public health to succeed there is a need to include everyone otherwise you will be harming your own people, because once a refugee is infected, the pandemic will not select who is next to catch it. He also asked SAMIN members to find out if there is any specific intervention to stop the Covid 19 into refugees’ camps for countries that have camps 19 but also how are refugees surviving.

Sharing Experiences
Father Rampe of the Jesuits movement shared some good experience; he said that the
University of Kimwanza in DRC had produced a ventilator which will help hospitals in the area for people in the hospital needing ventilator. Also the university has come up with gel disinfectants used to clean areas. In Zambia and Malawi, they have just appointed a Focal Point to coordinate their actions; they will also be using a local radio to disseminate information on Covid-19 using mainly local language; and in Zimbabwe their Silverer House which is a vocational school will embark on making masks.

Dr Callixte Kavuro, Academic and Lawyer at RDTJ speaking on Refugees in South Africa said that in principle government agree that refugees should be protected but does little to protect them.

Serge who joined from DRC shared with the participants that nothing specific was being
done in DRC and feared that once the pandemic outbreak get into the North of the country, will make more damage as there was even war going on even now. There is little if not any national authority and wondered who will care for those infected. He made a plea for SAMIN to seriously look into how they can come to rescue of refugees in DRC mainly North Kivu.

Dr Sibanda Vusumuzi, the Chair of the African Diaspora Forum spoke on the issue of Truck drivers who transport essential goods and food in SADC and who were being mistreated once they cross borders on the other country; he warned that if this is not resolved it can have a dire consequences on countries economy as well as food security.
Dr Sibanda called on the Network to intensify calls for support for migrants and refugees as the winter is kicking in things may be difficult without clothes for winter.

Dr. Janet Munakamwe spoke on the issue of the UIF ( SA) an d noted that even the ILO has issued a statement about it saying that migrants are being excluded despite them having contributed. She will invite the ILO official in our next webinar to share some perspecives on the issue as well other issues regarding migrants workers and lockdowns.

José Muianga shared the experience in Mozambique and called the Network to also
consider the issue of violence against women during the pandemic.


Participants dicussed and analysed the situation around refugees and migrants during the crises of COVID 19 in Southern Africa. Issues discussed include:

i. Different interventions by government tend to leave out Refugees and
migrants in relief strategies on both economic and social relief funds in many
Southern African countries including South Africa on Food relief, testing and
screening, access to social welfare especially for workers and unlawful
retrenchments as in the case of drivers from Zimbabwe.
ii. The team advised on long term implications on some decisions made by
governments like the building of fence in Zimbabwean border.
iii. No government has declared any stand for refugees living in camps
iv. Disease mishandling upon information release to the public and containment
of the disease in most SADC countries like the DRC and Botswana respectively.
Due to lockdown its difficult for most lobbying and advocacy work to be done, team
discussed on ways to have public interventions which has to be inclusive so as to challenge government to listen and rectify situations. Also coordination of people and groups that are willing to support those who are in desperate need.

Way Forward

Participants agreed on the following key actions and urgent tasks moving forward:


o Formation of SAMIN COVID-19 Task-team which will cover two themes: one on
humanitarian component including social and economic issues and the other on
Legal component which will focus on documentation and evaluation of legal
barriers. Task members to highlight specific issues with evidence based information.

o Form SAMIN COVID-19 task-team dealing with legal and humanitarian components the Secretariat will assist in forming them as well as help them to meet online
o Coordinate groups organizations and individuals who are willing to support refugees
and migrants on food relief
o Write proposals on how migrants are treated in different countries during the crisis
of Corona virus, evaluate/analyse situations come up with both moral and legal
arguments
o Create a WhatsApp group for SAMIN members to allow for timely communication
because not everyone can access their email during lockdowns.
o Ask government for permit for SAMIN as network to work during the lockdown

All in attendance had agreed that during times of crisis we should rally together, defend the defenseless and remain resolute of our cause after the crises is overcome.

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Appeal on behalf of a homeless Congolese Refugee Woman

On April 13th 2020 the Africa Unite team was made aware of a dire situation involving a pregnant refugee woman who along with her two-year-old son and husband were in desperate need of accommodation.


Rosy, the woman in question has been living together with her husband and their two-year-old son in the streets next to the Methodist Church Cape Town alongside many other refugees. Recently, the refugees have been relocated to the Police Station.

Rosy gave birth to a baby boy at Somerset Hospital on the 5th of April 2020. The family was informed that they must find a place to stay by the 16th of April 2020 otherwise a social worker will take their new-born child.

The main issue is that the family does not have enough money and resources to
find accommodation, buy baby clothes and food for their little ones. Our team has attempted to find shelter, but unfortunately without any success. Many shelters in Cape Town are either full or are not taking in new people due to COVID-19.

Time is running out and our hands are tied. We are doing everything in our power to prevent the baby from being
taken away from his mother, however, to achieve this we require assistance.

Both the family and our team would be utmost grateful if you could consider assisting us in any way possible.
Thank you in advance for your consideration.

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact
me on (+27) 76 460 4331 | nthati@africaunite.org.za
PayPal Account: https://www.africaunite.org.za/donation/

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Africa Unite’s Plan in times of COVID-19

Press Release                                                                                                                                            For Immediate Release

South Africa is the country in sub-Saharan Africa most affected by the COVID-19 virus with 150 cases currently identified (March 19th). No deaths have yet been recorded but according to international statistics it is only a matter of time for the first death to be confirmed.

On Sunday, March 15th, President Ramaphosa gave a national address regarding COVID-19. He explained the measures South Africa will take to prevent further spread of COVID-19. The most pressing changes are the closure of schools and universities from March 18th – April 14th, implementing travel-bans from high risk countries and prohibiting events and gatherings with more than 100 people.

In response to the President’s address, Africa Unite has decided to implement the following: For the closure period of schools, Africa Unite is putting its School Club Programme on temporary hold. This includes postponing the annual Leadership Camp that was scheduled for March 20-24. All events and meetings, including human rights sessions will be either postponed or limited to 15-20 people until further notice. Most of our international interns will have to return to their home countries within the next couple of days but we will adjust interactions to online platforms wherever possible. Africa Unite is committed to lobbying with other organizations to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Africa Unite continues to advocate for foreign nationals and the protection of their human rights, including their right to health and safety. Refugees, asylum seekers, and other immigrants need to be protected in addition to South African citizens. Home Affairs experiences long queues with people camping outside all night to get a chance to enter. It is not safe to force people to travel long distances with public transport during these times. In regard to the spread of COVID-19 those who are traveling domestically for papers should be able to go to their nearest home affairs offices instead of where they first got registered.

Furthermore, we are promoting the following habits to prevent the spread of coronavirus:

  • Social distancing (spend less time in public spaces with lots of people including restaurants, malls, etc)
  • Greet people with a “foot-five” or elbow tap
  • Carry hand sanitizer
  • Wash hands regularly and for at least 20 seconds
  • Eat more vitamin c fruits or take multi-vitamins if you can
  • Keep windows open for fresh air
  • Cough and sneeze into elbow
  • Minimize physical contact

Health is a human right. We are in solidarity with the President’s address and doing everything in our power to promote preventative measures. Please join us in taking action to put an end to COVID-19. As President Ramaphosa said, “It is true that we are facing a grave emergency. But if we act together, if we act now, and if we act decisively, we will overcome it.”

Date of release: 20 March 2019

For more information please contact Bongeka Gumede on bongeka@africaunite.org.za

 

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Africa Unite Youth Human Rights Training for Social Cohesion 2020

“A weekend moulding the future of a continent”

It’s a new year and a new wave of human rights champions and promoters have committed themselves to be Youth Human Rights Peer Educators to further promote a peaceful and harmonious Africa.

Camp pictures 2020

Youth leaders from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Germany

On the 13th to 15th March 2020, Africa Unite held its annual Youth Human Rights Peer Educators Training Weekend. The training was held at the beautiful resort of Goedegedacht Farm in Malmesbury which is located 87km from Cape Town, South Africa.

This year the training included a diverse group of youth from across the African continent, from a group of 25 young people (21 Western Cape, 2 Eastern Cape and 2 Africa Exchange program – 1 Tanzania and 1 Mozambique). From the 23 South African participants, 6 were originally from outside of the country (Germany, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Democratic Republic of the Congo) which adds to the diverse group of cultures, languages and experiences to the weekend and training. The purpose of the training is to capacitate young people from different backgrounds with knowledge and necessary skills in Human Rights in order for them to become Youth Human Rights Peer Educators in their respective communities and countries.

During this 3-day training, the facilitators covered the following content:

  • Human Rights Principles
  • Human Rights Education: What and Why?
  • Instruments protecting Human Rights locally and globally.
  • The rights of vulnerable people (people with disabilities, women, children, elderly people, refugees and migrants etc).
  • How to build Human Rights Communities.
  • How to facilitate human rights information sessions in various communities and countries.

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Participants listening attentively to the facilitator

During the training, the youth were divided in 4 countries namely, (1) Zimbabwe, (2) Ethiopia, (3) Cameroon and (4) South Africa. Most of their group work was done according to the above country groups. One of the highlights of the weekend training was the mock African Union assemblies where each country group was invited to make a presentation under the following indicators: (1) a brief history about the country, (2) current political issues, (3) socio-economic and cultural dynamics, (4) The resources of the Country and (5) In case they win, how each country intends to use the $100 billion donation in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

camp 3

After different presentations were done by the President of each country, South Africa took the prize due to their highly creative presentation, teamwork and well informed on the country they represented.

To mimic the traditional winning procedure, the group members were issued a mock cheque of $100 billion as well as a suitcase containing the funds for aid to their country. Nonetheless, the purpose of this activity was not just to highlight the importance of teamwork, but rather to also allow our youth to research and understand the political and socio-economic background of each African country. A background which we stress all Africans to familiarise themselves with.

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African Union assembly with Secretary General of the AU Joshua Plaat.

Furthermore, during this 3-days, the facilitators used simulation activities and role playing which made the youth reflect on their attitudes and behaviour on how they interact with others. The youth participants were highly motivated on how they can go back to their respective communities/countries and disseminate the knowledge they have acquired during the training in their own families, communities, churches, mosques, youth groups and other appropriate places.

Although the youth were from different backgrounds, they were excited about the levels of interaction, content of the training and the skills which were gained throughout the weekend.

To conclude the  training session, the participants were handed over the certificates of completion and the Human rights training manual.

Overall, the youth made a clear commitment to go back to their respective communities and countries to conduct similar information sessions.

Here are some comments made by the young leaders:

“Thank you to you and the wonderful team of facilitators for the workshop and manner in which it was presented. It’s been such a positive and eye-opening experience.” – Mazeeda Karani (South Africa)

“I learned so much about Human rights, more than I ever realised I was entitled to, I can now see what is lacking in my own community in regard to information and implementation which is something I will definitely take back home.” Dalali Venge (Tanzania)

“The training I received this weekend was mind opening and added so much to my self-development. Learning the difference between civil, political and socioeconomic rights and then how to practice them. Practicing empathy and listening to understand combined with knowledge can make one an instrument of change.” – Anestasia Jansen (South Africa)

“Africa Unite has really changed the way I see facilitation; Mr Vincent Williams has shown me a more interactive way to share information and teach people skills.” – Jose’ Muianga (Mozambique)

“Mr Williams and the Africa Unite team has really challenged me to think outside of the conventional box, to constantly challenge perceptions for the betterment of mankind but also to innovate new ways of doing things.”  Mbasa Viwe Mtshanele – (South Africa)

“This weekend has shown me that semantics in regard to law making is very important and that everything is not always as it seems, that we should constantly challenge the status quo and rules.” – Pejamauro Visagie

 

For more pictures, please follow this link:

Peer educator camp 2020 Facebook album

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Africa Unite Migration Game Development Session

South Africa is a host country for many migrants from other African countries and most of the immigrants in the country have fled their countries of origin due to multiple reasons (war, dictatorship, famine, violence) with the hope that they find this country a more clement land.

Migration Pic 4

School club pupils playing the migration game

Nonetheless, in the past couple of years, with the influx of migrants growing, there has been a brew of animosities between the locals and foreign nationals in South Africa.  Migrants have been confronted with a ray of discrimination and violent acts such as xenophobic or Afrophobic attacks from the local South Africans.

Post-apartheid schools in South Africa have an explicit mandate to redress past discrimination and are the most strategic sites of implementation of the government strategy to foster nation-building and social cohesion. The reluctance of colleagues and parents of the learners to engage in these difficult topics often adds fuel to local violence. Schools rarely provide the necessary platform for learners to engage on xenophobia and other discrimination topics.

Considering this background, we need to assess how learners, teachers and the broader community can engage with the topic of migration. Therefore, as a response to this question and to assist with combating xenophobia, Africa Unite has developed a migration game where participants of the game step into the shoes of a migrant to be acquainted with the experiences and challenges of people moving into South Africa face, as well as the different reasons why people migrate. This game aims to theoretically and practically educate young people on critically understanding sensitive issues that South Africa and Africa as a whole is faced with. It is a great opportunity and valuable, educative lesson which will help breaking down stereotypes and xenophobic sentiments.

Henceforth, on the 29th of February, we held a migration game session at Africa Unite office in Cape Town with 17 of our School Club leaners and 4 learners from Salt River High School and 3 from Gardens High School; partners of Africa Unite who have participated in our Social cohesion programs including the Anti-Xenophobia School Summit.

A total of 24 young learners participated in this session (20 females and 4 Males). During the session, the learners were able to express their opinions on various issues related to migration, (refugee integration, xenophobia, the post-apartheid period and its consequences in society, etc.)

The session started off with an icebreaker which also allowed the learners to introduce to each other and start engaging regardless of their different schools. Thereafter the game initiated with all teams being consisting of locals and foreign nationals. Our two facilitators started by explaining the game and its purposes to the two teams.

Migration Pic 2

After a series of debates and complaints from learners whose characters were consistently being sent to Lindela (where foreign nationals are placed before rerouting to their countries due to not having the correct documents) the winners with the correct documents finally made it to South Africa and received the adequate asylum seeker or refugee status.

Overall, the engagements throughout the game were fruitful as many migration testimonies were shared and all learners were thoroughly educated on migration and one’s journey migrating from one country to another.

Although the game had finished, and a winner crowned, the learners continued discussing issues which shed light during the session, these ranged from:

1.Opening of borders in Africa? 

Learners mostly agreed that Africa should be more like Europe, regarding how people can travel freely from country to country. While also addressing the contradiction how borders are essentially decided by European colonisers during the scramble for Africa.

Migration Pic 3

2.Whether or not South Africa is welcoming?

  • A foreign national learner expressed that the South African government is welcoming, but South Africans are not.
  • Learners acknowledged how political leader’s xenophobic comments trigger xenophobic attacks in various places in the country.
  • Learners stressed how xenophobia was a class issue,
  • Lastly, a learner raised an interested point which should be debated further, she expressed” Why are foreign nationals in South Africa being forced to assimilate instead of being accepted for who they are and their various cultures and ethnicities?

Moreover, towards the end of the session, the learners were separated into two groups: one group represented the South African government and the other one represented migrants and refugees. The learners were instructed to express themselves on what should be changed in South African society.

Migration Pic 1 One of the Schools club pupils presenting which changes South Africa should make in its migration policies

Here are some suggestions from the students: 

  • South African government must respect its migration laws
  • The government should integrate refugees into society and should also raise awareness about migration among the local population to avoid xenophobic attacks.
  • The government needs to put in place ways for people to live together, to make certain places which are essentially of the upper class more accessible to everyone.
  • More job opportunities for the migrants in South Africa is essential.
  • Political Leaders need to be regulated on the information they share as leadership.

Consequently, the day was very constructive and fruitful for the learners and for the facilitators. We are looking forward to hosting more sessions throughout 2020.

We would like to thank all the school’s officials for their continuous support in exposing learners to various learning platforms and our peer educator and creator of the game; Leo Fortaillier for creating such an educative board game.

 

 

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