Refugee organisations in South Africa encouraged to speak with one voice

South Africa Refugee-Led Network celebrated Human Rights Day on Tuesday

By Tariro Washinyira

22 March 2023

About 60 people attended a Human Rights Day event organised by the South Africa Refugee-Led Network at Bertha house on Tuesday. Photo: Ashraf Hendricks

Refugee organisation leaders were encouraged to work together and speak with one voice at an event commemorating Human Rights Day held at Bertha House, Cape Town, on Tuesday.

The South Africa Refugee-Led Network (SARLN) has a membership of 74 organisations and was formed in 2020 to better the lives of refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants.

A major challenge facing the immigrant community is documentation. SARLN chairperson Abdikadir Mohamed said commitment, advocacy and lobbying was needed. He encouraged the organisations’ leaders to comment and send submissions on refugee laws or refugee related matters. He said leaders should attend meetings at Parliament and engage with the portfolio committee for Home Affairs when they failed to get the attention or a response from the Minister of Home Affairs.

“Why are we singing about challenges all the time?” he asked the 60 or so participants. “Why are we not talking about solutions? We know our challenges, we have sung the song for a long time, it’s a lullaby now.”

He asked how many leaders present had for instance made submissions on the Refugee Act amendment bill of 2020.

A documentary filmmaker, who is a refugee from Cameroon and who did not wish to be named, said, “We need to talk more about human rights because there are a lot of people who are still being abused. There are asylum seekers who still do not know their rights and where to go for help.”

“As an activist … I am celebrating human rights day mixing with African brothers and sisters to exchange views and discuss our future.”