Article credit: www.dha.gov.za
The Department of Home Affairs has noted with concern misleading media reports in relation to the Angolan Cessation process and wishes to correct certain misrepresentations that seek to paint the South African government in a negative light.
It is of importance to note that, against the backdrop of the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1969 Organisation of African Unity (OAU) Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa: “a person ceases to be a refugee if he/she can no longer continue to refuse the protection of the country of his or her nationality, because the circumstances that recognised such a person as a refugee no longer exist.”
The Angolan war ended in 2002 following the signing of the Luena Peace Treaty in Zambia. In October 2009 UNHCR Executive Committee in Geneva recommended that Angolans remaining in host countries as refugees should cease to receive international protection following sustained peace, stability and economic prosperity in their country of origin.
In this regard, on 29 April 2013, Cabinet approved the implementation of the Angolan cessation in line with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) recommendation under three categories:
1. Voluntary repatriation as the primary and preferred option;
2. Local integration due to established links and tiers within the host country and;
3. Exemption from the cessation given the continued need for protection.
Under the UNHCR’s Comprehensive Durable Solutions Strategy, Voluntary Repatriation is the preferred option although in this regard, few affected Angolans considered this option.
Under Local Integration, two-year special permits were availed through the Immigration Act to allow enough time to apply for permits that will assist those affected to remain in the country as Angolan migrants and not as refugees. The basis of motivations for this option would premise on reasons of marriage, employment, business and study.It should be noted that under the Exemption Category, none of the Angolan refugees applied for continued protection instead electing to seek extensions citing medical reasons. The department is considering the latter option though it is outside the provisions of international protection as stipulated in the Refugee Act, AU and UN Conventions and Protocols.
The South African government is firmly committed to ensuring the fulfillment of its international obligations towards refugees and asylum seekers in terms of its ratification of the relevant international protocols.