The City of Cape Town says it has spent millions in unbudgeted funds on accommodation and other services for a group of refugees over the past two years.
Role players such as the United Nations Refugee Agency, the Department of Home Affairs, City of Cape Town and the Human Rights Commission, briefed Parliament’s Home Affairs Portfolio Committee on the latest developments around foreign nationals protesting in Cape Town.
A new deadline of 15 May has been set to evict those who do not want to accept voluntary repatriation or reintegration into their former host communities.
JP Smith from the City of Cape Town says they can no longer afford to fund the exercise.
“To date, tents have cost R6 million that doesn’t include all costs. If we had to do a complete calculation, it would come to much more than that,” says Smith.
Video: Minister Motsoaledi speaks about the Refugees Amendment Act:
Home Affairs hopes to eliminate refugee status appeals backlog
Meanwhile, Home Affairs Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi, says his department hopes to eliminate the backlog of refugee status appeals within four years.
The Refugee Appeals Authority of South Africa (Raasa), an independent body that adjudicates appeals by refugees who have been denied asylum by the department, says it has made progress in dealing with appeals.
However, the authority says a lack of resources and cuts in their budgets are hampering their work.
Measures aimed at easing the backlog include the commitment of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to provide assistance.
Motsoaledi says an agreement is to be signed soon, under which the UNHCR will pay for 36 new members of Raasa, including their training and equipment.
“That situation is going to dramatically change and as I said last week, we are in discussion with the United Nations High Commissioner for refugees to choose a day on which we are going to sign the agreement on them helping us with this backlog project. They’re going to help us financially and technically in terms of capacity,” explains Motsoaledi.