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South Africa Rejects More Refugee Applications Than Any Other Country. - Foreign Affairs - Nairaland

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South Africa Rejects More Refugee Applications Than Any Other Country. by 14(m): 4:11pm On Mar 24, 2016
South Africa rejects more refugee applications than any other country.

According to an analysis of UN High Commissioner for Refugees data conducted by Code4SA's Data Journalism Academy, in 2014 and the first half of 2015, the Department of Home Affairs turned down 81% of refugee applications, compared with the international average of 21%. In that period, more than 150,000 people from 24 countries sought asylum in South Africa, making it the third most popular destination for refugees.

This was at a time when Europe received one of its largest influxes of refugees from the Middle East.

The UNHCR data revealed that, with nearly 800,000 cases, South Africa had more than a third of the world's pending refugee applications. A backlog in processing applications has created a crisis.

Roni Amit, of the African Centre for Migration and Society at Wits University, whose research in 2012 showed only about half of refugee applicants were economic migrants, suggested the government was conflating immigrants with refugees to keep people out.

"The rejection rate is so high because they use it as a migration management method to keep people out. They see all refugees as economic migrants.

"Part of the problem is the demand on the system, and Home Affairs didn't increase its capacity because it wanted to decrease demand," she said.

Home Affairs spokesman Mayi-hlome Tshwete said the department believed fraudulent claims by economic migrants were the cause of the backlog. They made "deliberate attempts to abuse the system" by applying for refugee status when not warranted.

Home Affairs rejected 96% of refugee applications last year, according to a report presented to parliament on March 8. It said by the end of the first quarter of last year, 2406 people had been granted asylum. For the rest of the year, only 93 applications were accepted.

At the heart of the problem was the failure to have qualified and trained refugee status determination officers, said attorney William Kerfoot, of the Legal Resources Centre in Cape Town.

"Under-educated, incompetent refugee status determination officers view each application as fraudulent and therefore as mani-festly unfounded," Kerfoot said.

Tshwete admitted a capacity problem but said there were deliberate attempts to abuse weaknesses. "People are seeing that the easiest way into South Africa is as an asylum seeker,"

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