30 September 2010
|While the regularisation of Zimbabweans is positive, more needs to be done to protect the human rights of the most vulnerable, Limpopo, South Africa (Peter Balleis SJ/JRS)|
|Refugee NGOs are worried that few hitherto undocumented migrants will practically qualify for legal status under this initiative.|
Johannesburg, 16 September 2010 – At the end of the year, South Africa is to resume the deportation of Zimbabweans who fail to qualify for visas under the new government regularisation plan.
According to a government statement, Zimbabwean nationals who are working, conducting businesses, or studying in South Africa will be issued with visas, provided they have valid documentation. Undocumented Zimbabweans will be treated like all others and their deportation will resume on 31 December.
In April 2009, South Africa placed a moratorium on deportations, introduced a 90-day visa on demand for Zimbabwean passport holders, and was on the cusp of issuing a special permit allowing them to work and reside in South Africa for up to three years, but this has now been reversed.Most vulnerable at risk
While JRS and other organisations welcome the move to expand avenues for legal immigration, they have expressed concern about the fate of those who fear returning home, but will not qualify for visas.
Given the reluctance of South Africa to grant refugee status to Zimbabweans fleeing persecution, refugee NGOs are worried that few hitherto undocumented migrants will practically qualify for legal status under this initiative.
The Forced Migration Studies Programme (FMSP) at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg estimates that between 1 million and 1.5 million Zimbabweans live in South Africa.
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