Thursday, July 13, 2006

A Common Affair: African Immigration

Africa is shaken today by multiform crises. The African continent is facing a situation in which it is not capable of going ahead toward sustainable development and stability. The sub-Saharan Africa suffers not only of political crises and wars, but especially of poverty. Consequently, the immigration becomes the new way of hope for a better future of its populations. Though the problem of African immigration becomes alarming and needs our particular attention.
Generally speaking, many researches have demonstrated that African immigrants are experiencing and facing xenophobia, racism and exclusion in their daily lives in their country of asylum. But it is well known that most of western countries/governments do provide social structures that could help asylum seekers and refugees to fulfill their dream. Most of the time, their rights are protected by advocacy groups and government department. But the South Africa's reality on asylum seeker and refugees matter is quite different. It is painful and surprised to see and to experience how these categories of people are copping with their lives here in Johannesburg.
It is very much anxious to see how they manage to integrate South African society and culture. As illegal immigrants, their first difficult is to face the policemen who, day and night, are searching those who do not have the right paper (valid South African Visa in a travel document, especially passport). But most of them manage, in the first days of their arrival, to go to Home Affairs Refugee Office department for applying asylum permit. What it is anxious is that sometimes they are obliged to sleep outside for more than a day, on the queue, no-matter good or bad weather, in seeking and waiting the permit. Thus, some people question themselves if the government, especially the Department of Home Affairs provides a better service for those people! Why is the South African government is not properly taking care of asylum seekers and refugees? Did the South African government sign the Geneva Treaty or not? What is the UNHCR part of responsibility ? Why non to call for refugee policy reform?
Of course, by creating Refugee Office at home affairs department, South African government showed its willingness of protecting and defending the rights of Refugees. But the surprising thing is that the services offer at Refugee Office and government departments do not help asylum seekers and refugees to be peacefully integrated and humanly live. Because obtaining the permit does not secure them; even though the government grants them the right of studying and working in South Africa.
In reality, they are facing each and every day many problems because of their status. Hence, they are victims of xenophobia at all level and circonstances, especially for Employment. They have to work hard for their lives. But, it is very painful to see how they are copping to find opportunities. The only opportunity is accessible for them (men) to work as security officer, waiter, car wash, car watch, or road trader despite their qualifications and skills, except those who graduated in Medicine and Nursing . While, Women and Ladies are granted the jobs like waitresses, shop-seller, cashier, and so on. There is a problem of stutus, xenophobia and exclusion. In addition, employers want a ‘green ID’. This means that everyone must apply for South African citizenship?
Please, let give chance to one another because we are all human being. Furthermore, do not forget that one day it can be our turn. Just remember how Apartheid system obliged our grand-parents and parents to flee their home-country in seeking of refuge in other countries. Do not forget our passed history. Why this ‘Apartheid’ behaviour when we know that South African people were fighting these exclusion policies more than ten years ago? Why do we want to return back to Apartheid are?
We are all human beings, let forget about our differences on race, gender, nationality, social status, and so on. Let us give one another chance for building a better world. this can be possible if we break our boundaries and witness and/or experience God's love. Moreover, let us share our knowledge, experiences, problems and difficulties for their adequate solutions. This is a call upon all those who have experienced the reality of asylum seeker or refugee and are deciding for the refugee policy today in South Africa.