South Africa marks World Refugee Day in the City of Johannesburg, which remains the destination of choice for those who flee persecution from their native countries.
Over 500 immigrants, including those who seek refugee status, come to the City on a monthly basis. The City, through its inclusive programs, continues to provide quality of life to all its residents, including full access to all its health facilities and other social services despite fiscal challenges facing the city.
Celebrations, held at Constitutional Hill in Braamfontein, remain a symbol of how the City of Johannesburg and South Africa continue to work towards creating a better life for all, including refugees.
Under the 1951 United Nations Convention, a refugee can be a “convention refugee” who has left their home country and has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or a membership in a particular social group. The same convention states that a refugee can also be a person “in need of protection”, whose removal to their home country would subject them to the danger of torture or the risk of life or cruel and unusual treatment or punishment. Member of the Mayoral Committee for the City of Johannesburg, Dr Ntombi Khumalo, said the World Refugee Day celebrations must be a reminder of the values we hold as a country and what our constitution states about the rights of all within our borders.
“World refugee day is a significant day aimed at raising awareness of the circumstances of refugees throughout the world, we as the City of Johannesburg are a city that cares and our administration is dedicated to ensuring that we are supportive and sensitive to the circumstances of refugees” said Khumalo.
“Because we acknowledge that people are left with no other option but to leave their country of origin for many reasons that include losing their lives, either because of civil war‚ human rights violations‚ or natural disasters, we participated in the celebrations held in Braamfontein because we are a City that cares”, MMC Khumalo added.
The city has also established a forum - Joburg Migration Advisory Panel - which is made up of non-governmental organisations, civil society and city departments who meet monthly to look at challenges that migrants are faced with and possible ways of addressing these challenges.