Home Affairs South Africa have rejected the asylum application of a Syrian family claiming that there is no war in the Damascus area and that the country is stable enough to return to.
The year 2016 saw the conflict enter its 6th year of civil war. Hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed within Syria and millions of civilians have fled the country that is being bombed every single day by government, rebel as well as from fighters who are part of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group.
Advocate Mustaque Holland, a Cape Town based attorney, who is assisting the family whose asylum application was rejected, said that the home affairs department rejected their application because the department says that they found that there was no conflict in the Damascus area.
“According to home affairs the conflict hasn’t spread to the Damascus area and the Damascus area is stable and ISIL does not control that area,” Holland added.
Right now in Damascus, Syria’s foreign minister warned that Saudi or other foreign troops entering his country would “return home in wooden coffins” Walid Al Muallem’s came after the collapse of the latest UN-led Syria peace efforts and as a Russian-backed Syrian government offensive near the city of Aleppo sent thousands of residents fleeing towards Turkey.
The destruction and despair wrought by the Syrian civil war has caused a “systematic” obliteration of infrastructure and population. The average life expectancy fell by a staggering 20 years.
A complete death toll in the war is impossible to pin down, but estimates from aid organisations and the United Nations put the number at more than 270,000 people — thousands more than the number killed in the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined.
According to aid organisation Mercy Corps, “half the country’s pre-war population — more than 11 million people — have been killed or forced to flee their homes.”
“If you look at any stories over the past five years you will clearly see that there is civil war within Syria and I don’t know on what basis they have come to that conclusion clearly the officer was misinformed,” Holland explained.
The UN estimates close to four million Syrians have fled the country — a trend that has fuelled an incredibly difficult European refugee crisis that has dominated global headlines.
A further seven million Syrians are believed to be internally displaced due to the fighting, and those left behind face almost impossible circumstances.
“Based upon the fact that home affairs concluded that Syria is safe to return to, they said that the claim (for asylum in South Africa) does not warrant humanitarian aid,” Holland went further.
“It could be the fault of the official at home affairs because he assessed the application and came to his own conclusion.”
The family initially logged an asylum application which was denied in July 2015. The decision was appealed and the appeal is still pending, however there is no date set for that hearing, but in the interim home affairs has granted them a section 22 temporary permit which is extended on a six month basis.
Holland says that at the moment they have temporary asylum pending the outcome of the appeal.
“At this stage the section 22 permit is lapsing on the 26th of February and the family has to reapply and the issue that they are facing is that the family would have to reapply in Pretoria because all the refugee centres have closed in Cape Town and they have centralised it to Pretoria,” Holland continued.
“Now they have to travel all the way at their own expense to Pretoria with money that they don’t have in order to reapply and middle eastern countries are only seen to on Fridays so they would have to travel this week in order to secure a further six month extension; which at this stage is borderline ridiculous because they have a valid case for asylum and they should actually be granted asylum,” Holland concluded.
If you wish to assist with the cost of the family’s flight to Pretoria for their asylum application, you may send donations to the following bank account:
Bank: First National Bank (FNB)
Account Type: Attorneys Trust Account
Account Number: 624 322 525 84
Branch: Claremont (200109)
*Please note that this is the ONLY registered bank account for donations for the family.
VOC (Umarah Hartley)