Refugee Day marked by fast-tracking asylum applications

South Africa celebrated World Refugee Day on Tuesday by promising to fast-track its backlog of 100 000 asylum applications.

The Department of Home Affairs launched four refugee-reception offices around the country to process the applications dating from 1994 to July last year.

These applications are to be “immediately dealt with”, the minister of home affairs’ spokesperson Cleo Mosana said in a statement.

“Lack of capacity and inadequate availability of resources to facilitate the registration of asylum seekers has created a backlog ...
[which] has resulted in unlawful arrests, detention and deportation of legitimate applicants,” said the department.

“This has resulted in the Refugee Backlog Campaign, the department’s humanitarian operation aimed at fast-tracking the processing of applications by refugees and asylum seekers, as well as the determination of their status.”

The new centres are in Crown Mines, Gauteng, eThekwini in KwaZulu-Natal, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.

“On World Refugee Day, the department asks you to remember the refugees under our care who are trying to pick up the pieces of once-peaceful lives. As different as they are from each other, one thing connects them all: hopes for a better future and a chance to restore lasting peace to their lives.”

The department also released a music CD entitled Song of Hope.—Sapa

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