SOUTH AFRICA: Police storm refugee camp
17 Jul 2008 16:38:46 GMT
JOHANNESBURG , 17 July 2008 (IRIN) - Police stormed a refugee camp today in southern Johannesburg to release four security guards held hostage by foreign nationals displaced by the recent xenophobic violence in South Africa.
For more on the anti-immigrant violence that has gripped South Africa in the last few months read here. But basically the lack of jobs, decent housing, and escalating crime has frustrated many South Africans and they blame immigrants to the country from other regions of the African continent for it.
The tented "safety camp" in Johannesburg's Glenanda suburb houses about 2,000 people from 16 African countries and was established in the wake of widespread xenophobic attacks that killed more than 60 people, injured hundreds more and displaced tens of thousands in May this year.
The residents have voluntarily divided the camp into sections according to nationality; people from the Democratic Republic of Congo, numbering about 700 people, are the dominant group.
So far it's another banal story about ethnic violence in some far away place but it is the following that warrants our attention.
Richard Assante, who arrived illegally in South Africa from Ghana in 2006, said he had received a special identity document but was afraid to return to the camp as "people want to kill me because I got a card [identity document]."
He said most people in the camp were hoping to be resettled in either Canada or Australia, so they were rejecting both reintegration in South Africa and repatriation to their country of origin.
Got that? They are rejecting both repatriation and reintegration into South African society, two viable options. So it seems they are intentionally creating a situation that will lead to resettlement in some other country, preferable one with a high standard of living like Canada's.
The shelters established for victims of xenophobia have a two-month timeframe, and if foreign nationals refuse either reintegration into South African society or repatriation to their home countries, "we could have a dilemma" Masebe said. "We cannot force people to go back to their home countries and we cannot establish permanent shelters for foreign nationals."
Masebe said resettlement of the foreign nationals in the camps to a third country was not within the South African government's ambit.
Resettlement to a third country is, of course, a possible option as well but why Canada or Australia and not a country closer to home and culturally similar? We all know the answer to that question.
What is also curious is how Canada and Australia were singled out. Why not the United States? Why not the United Kingdom? What about France, Denmark, or Switzerland? Is it because of Canada's reputation for tolerance and accommodation or is it because we have the weakest immigration laws in the world coupled with a very generous welfare state which includes subsidized health care? I think we know the answer to that question as well, illustrating how wide spread throughout the third world is Canada's real reputation as the easiest industrialized country to get into with a generous welfare state.
It is apparent that these people are intentionally creating a problem, are intentionally rejecting any solution to the problem save immigration to Canada or Australia. They desire to use the refugee system for immigration purposes. Should we allow this? This answer is no even though we have been allowing this abuse of this humanitarian program for decades. It has to stop because if we don't put an end to it then Canada will continue to be seen as the choice destination for bogus refugees and with them the attendant social and economic problems that tend to follow them. Recall that these people do have options before them. They can either be repatriated or peruse integration into South Africa but they are purposely rejecting both.
It is because they have options that we should reject them. Unfortunately our refugee laws are in their favour and all they have to do is to make it to Canada and file a refugee claim. As a refugee they have all the rights of Canadian citizenship except the right to vote, all thanks to the Singh Decision of 1985. Also, they have at their disposal a seemingly endless appeal process to delay their removal if ordered deported. While they are here, they can abuse our citizenship laws and produce "anchor babies", children given automatic Canadian citizenship by virtue of being born on Canadian soil, to help them get back into the country if they are forced to leave. Also, they can sponsor a numerous amount of relatives if granted status as a refugee and landed immigrant. This is why Canada was singled out. If you say it is because Canada has a world wide reputation as a tolerant and accommodating society then you are either a politician, or selling newspapers, or gaming the immigration system, or live in Toronto, the city were everyone lives inside their heads.