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Refugees evicted from Cape Town church just want to leave South Africa

City of Cape Town law enforcement evicted several hundred people who had been living on the streets around Greenmarket Square for over four months. Last year hundreds of refugees gathered outside the UNHCR offices in Cape Town demanding to be relocated out of South Africa due to xenophobic related violence and crime they face. (David Harrison/M&G)

A few dozen refugees among the hundreds removed this past weekend from outside the Methodist church on Cape Town’s Greenmarket Square say they don’t know where to go or how to survive and that the state has not helped them.

They sought refuge in October last year and asked the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to take them to another country, because they no longer feel safe in xenophobic South Africa. The UNHCR has said it would not be able to assist with a mass relocation.

The City of Cape Town’s law enforcement officials were responding to a high court order that the refugees should vacate their temporary homes around the church. The order does not apply to inside the church.

Some refugees made their way to the nearby St Mary’s Catholic Church opposite the parliamentary precinct. They were later removed from there as well.

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The number of refugees has dwindled, but police and city officials are still uncertain what to do with several groups living in the city centre, including in parks and public spaces, who have no homes to go to.

The Western Cape Refugee and Migrant Forum said the refugees should give up on the idea of being taken to another country.

“The city got a court order saying that there is no camping allowed in the CBD, and this is what was used to remove them from the St Mary’s Church. There are some that are waiting around the central police station. These are people who are claiming they don’t have a place to go. But we believe everyone should take responsibility, that their issues have been exposed to the right departments,” said the forum’s Patrick Matenga.

He claims some leaders gave refugees false hopes that they would be leaving South Africa.

Matenga said there was no other option than for the refugees to return to where they lived before moving to the city centre with their grievances.

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“People should go back to their homes. Although there is vulnerability [from anti-immigrant sentiment], they need to go back to where they lived in Cape Town before the [church] sit-in.”

The refugees have been accused of not being willing to co-operate with authorities to find a solution to the impasse.

On several occasions, charitable organisations and welfare groups were chased away.

“The department of social development put a plan in place by asking people to go to a screening centre and every case, and personal circumstance would be recorded. Those that needed papers could go to home affairs [department], those that needed medical assistance could get help, but they refused. Social workers went there, they were chased away,” Matenga said.

Refugee leader Papi Sakumi denies anyone was promised they would be relocated. “Those are rumours. No one got WhatsApps telling them to leave their homes or their jobs. People came to the UNHCR’s offices out of their own will. They don’t want to be in South Africa anymore,” he said.

On Tuesday, Parliament called for a resolution to the situation while urging the refugees to respect the laws of the country.

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The chairperson of the portfolio committee of home affairs, Bongani Bongo, said the refugees had failed to acknowledge that the UNHCR cannot relocate them and the countries they want to move to are unwilling to assist them.

“It is untenable that the situation continues to persist, despite numerous attempted interventions that have not yielded desirable results. We would like to urge refugees to comply with the by-laws of the City of Cape Town,” Bongo said

Source.Mg.co.za

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IOM launches open South America portal

International Organisation of Migration (

Buenos Aires – IOM, the International Organization for Migration, this week launched the Open South America Portal, a web platform providing migrants and stakeholders in the region with access to reliable and timely information on human mobility restrictions and health and safety measures adopted by governments in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Open South America, available in SpanishEnglish and Portuguese, shares official information by country on the latest measures, including border restrictions, quarantine requirements and COVID-19 tests for migrants and travellers.

The portal also provides updated information on authorized entry points and key places for travellers and migrants, such as consulates, migrant care and health centres, airports, border crossings points and ports. This information can be explored through an interactive map.

The platform, funded by the IOM Development Fund, is also accessible to vulnerable migrants who may be stranded or are at risk of receiving misinformation on migration.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, South America has been one of the most impacted regions worldwide. According to the World Health Organization figures, as of 8 July 2021 there were 33,475,765 COVID-19 cumulative cases in the region, which represents 89 per cent of the total cases in Latin America, and 18 per cent of all infections recorded globally.

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Countries such as Brazil, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador all experienced severe outbreaks. For example, Brazil currently reports the third highest number of cumulative cases (18,855,015) and second highest death toll (526,892) globally.

“Open South America will facilitate orderly, regular and responsible migration in South America amid the uncertain times of COVID-19 and after the pandemic,” said Minister Ana Laura Cachaza, General Director of Consular Affairs of the Government of Argentina.

“Migrants’ access to up-to-date information through innovative online tools is essential considering the changing migration dynamic in the region due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Marcelo Pisani, IOM Regional Director for South America.

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29,000 Nigerians, Ghanaians, Somalians, other Africans migrated through the Mediterranean Sea to Europe in 2021 —IOM

The International Organisation for Migration has said that 29,000 individuals including Nigerians, Ghanaians, Somalians and other Africans have emigrated to Europe through the Mediterranean Sea this year.

About 13,000 were arrested by the coast guards and returned home while 761 migrants were said to have perished in the sea.

Disclosing this to journalists in Abuja on Friday, the Chief of Mission, IOM Nigeria, Mr Franz Celestin, said less than five per cent of migrants usually made it to Europe, adding that the vast majority stay in Africa.

He further said that a lot of migrants were trafficked within the Economic Community of West African States, adding that Mali was the number one destination point for trafficked Nigerian women.

Responding to questions on the number of people who have undertaken the perilous trip to Europe through the Mediterranean, the IOM Chief said, “A combination of unemployment and underemployment is pushing people to migrate.

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“In this year, 29,000 migrants from Sub-Sahara Africa have migrated to Europe through the Mediterranean. About 13,000 were intercepted by the coastguard while 761 died.”

International Organisation of Migration (

Celestin stressed the importance of tackling human trafficking which he said grossed about $150 billion annually.

“Traffickers make a lot of money and they would continue to do it until a coordinated response is evolved to stop them. We are collaborating with Interpol in this respect; we are connected to the Interpol i/247 database. We connected the MIDAS to the Interpol database where we pass the information on traffickers to the Interpol,” he stated.

Celestin explained that the IOM has been involved in the biometric registration of children in the North-East, noting that the agency has registered no fewer than 17,053 children in 18 different internally displaced person camps between 2019 and May 2021 in Borno State.

The agency chief also disclosed that IOM was involved in the G7 Famine Prevention and Humanitarian Compact for North-East.

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FG condemns killing of Nigerian footballer in UK

Kelvin

The Federal government has condemned the alleged killing of a Nigerian Footballer, Kelvin Igweani, by the UK police.

Recall that Igweani, a Nigerian Footballer, was shot dead by officers, who attended a call out to a house, where a child was found with serious injuries.

Reacting, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman/CEO, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), in Abuja on Wednesday described the incident as very unfortunate,and sad.

Dabiri-Erewa condoled with the family of the deceased and the Nigerian communities in the UK while praying that God grants rest to the soul of the departed.

“We call on the UK government for a thorough and proper investigation to be carried out on the incident,” the statement added.

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