Asylum seekers frustrated with Home Affairs

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A Home Affairs official leans over a wall to collect forms from asylum seekers waiting in the queue below. Photo by Bernard Chiguvare.

Last year GroundUp reported the poor service offered to asylum seekers and refugees by the Department of Home Affairs’ foreshore offices. We revisited the offices today. The situation remains unchanged.

On 18 December we reported:

The Department of Home Affairs’ foreshore office has been accused of turning away refugees since September 2015 without assisting them because the department has lost their files. Some refugees have consequently lost their jobs and had their bank accounts frozen. While in the queue outside Home Affairs, pregnant women and children stand in the scorching sun daily waiting for officials to call out their names.

This morning, refugees lining up, mainly to renew their asylum status, complained that the service continues to be poor.

There were hundreds of people standing in the queue outside the offices. At about 7:30am a Home Affairs official together with a security guard leaned over a wall and began collecting forms from the people queuing below (see photo).

One man from Somalia was slightly optimistic, “I have noted a slight improvement in the services today. They have collected everyone’s document. Most of the days when I come here they collect a few of these documents and disappear till late,” he said.

A woman from Kenya standing with her children said, “I have been coming to this office since last Tuesday but am not yet attended to. Today they have collected our documents but we still have to wait and see if they will come back to us in time. Most of the time they collect our documents and come back around 2pm, only to tell us to come the following day.”

A woman from DRC who was breastfeeding one of her twin children said she was afraid she and her friend might lose their jobs because they have spent too much time at Home Affairs trying to get their documents in order. “I am here together with my husband and a friend of ours. Our documents waiting for refugee status have been collected by the official but we are not sure when we will be called. Right now my friend is frustrated,” she said.

She added that officials do not usually work on documents collected that day. “I realised that people attended to on a particular day might have been visiting the offices for the past two weeks or so. I am sure they have a backlog.”

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TOPICS:  Home Affairs Immigration

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