DEPARTMENT OF HOME AFFAIRS: REOPEN REFUGEE RECEPTION OFFICES!

DEPARTMENT OF HOME AFFAIRS: REOPEN REFUGEE RECEPTION OFFICES!

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Epiphanie Mukasano started this petition to Department of Home Affairs

On the 15th of March 2020, all Refugee Reception Offices (RROs) in South Africa were shut down when President Cyril Ramaphosa declared COVID-19 a national disaster. To date, the RROs remain closed. In fact, some RROs, such as the one in Cape Town, closed to new applications as early as 2012 and have since remained so despite numerous court orders to re-open. The indefinite closure of RROs has increased the vulnerability of asylum seekers and refugees and undermined their rights. Without technical support or a departmental helpline, many asylum seekers and refugees have problems with the online system of extending documents introduced by the Department of Home Affairs in April 2021 and are unable to renew their documents.

For many, access to basic services became problematic. The services include, among others healthcare and education, renewals of social grants for refugees, social relief grants, renewals of professional driving permits, UIF payments, renewal of work contracts, and access to bank accounts services.

RROs are critical for applications and renewals of documentation for asylum seekers and refugees. Without them, access to procedures such as family joining become impossible. Since the beginning of lockdown, the Minister of Home Affairs has already extended documents virtually up to seven times. This is only if the documents expired during lockdown. What about those that expired before but could not be extended for various reasons out of their holders' control? And what about asylum seekers who arrived during lockdown? Furthermore, since virtual extensions do not reflect physically on the holder's document, many asylum seekers and refugees have been turned away by public and private institutions on grounds that their permits are not valid. 

Please sign this petition to help us ask the Department of Home Affairs to open all Refugee Reception Offices across the country.

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At 5,000 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!