Setting the record straight and communicating the Republic’s decisions regarding Angolan’s currently living in South Africa as refugees, the press release stated, “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.’
Continuing the press statement pointed out that the Angolan war ended in 2002 following the signing of the Luena Peace Treaty in Zambia adding that 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.
Commenting on the government’s decision in terms of the fate of affected Angolans the statement pointed out that 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.”
The statement makes special mention that 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 South African government is firmly committed to ensuring the fulfilment of its international obligations towards refugees and asylum seekers in terms of its ratification of the relevant international protocols,” concludes the statement.
Source: Press Release by the Republic of South Africa Department of Home Affairs dated 4 September 2015.