South Africa: humanitarian visas for the people of Zimbabwe, on hold

When the announcement was made last April, the NGOs working in the area with refugees and migrants, the JRS among them, welcomed it as a positive humanitarian step, necessary to answer the more than one million undocumented Zimbabwe citizens fleeing from the economic downfall and the grave abuses against human rights in their country. However, this new information has been most disappointing to them. "According to a report from IRIN, the UN humanitarian news agency, the recent change of President could be the reason for this review" stated the JRS.

"We were so encouraged by this decision in the month of April that in our Declaration on the 2009 World Refugee Day we pointed it out as an exemplary measure. We ask the authorities to give the temporary visas as soon as possible. Conditions in Zimbabwe have not changed and to ignore the problem will not make it disappear" said Joanne Whitaker, JRS Director for Southern Africa.

Only in the border city of Musina, at least 350 citizens from Zimbabwe seek asylum daily, overflowing the system. Some kind of mechanism is necessary, such as the temporary visas that may allow the people to have access to the social services and contribute to their new communities.

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