Peace protest highlights plight of foreign nationals

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Marchers target xenophobia

THE Agency for Refugee Education, Skills Training and Advocacy (Aresta) held an Anti-Xenophobia Peace March last week Thursday.

TAKING ACTION: The Agency for Refugee Education, Skills Training and Advocacy (Aresta) held an Anti-Xenophobia Peace March last week

The march was attended by more than 100 people, including South Africans and foreign nationals. The march aimed to advance human rights by creating awareness of the plight and rights of foreign nationals.

In an effort to create awareness and advocate social cohesion in East London and the greater Buffalo City Metropolitan (BCM) area, Aresta also submitted a memorandum to the Department of Home Affairs.

The memorandum listed grievances of refugees and asylum seekers. “These were largely policy issues,” Aresta assistant campaign manager, Siphiwe Sangqu said.

Grievances included the lack of consistency in the extension of permits, the rights of refugees and asylum seekers to appeal a decision as provided for in the Refugee Act No 130 of 1998 Section 26(1) and allow eligible and recognised refugees, who after five years of continuous residence, be granted citizenship and permanent residence as stated under Section 27(c).

“Through this and the anti-xenophobia march, we hope to add to the already existing initiatives that seek to build communities that are free from racism, discrimination and xenophobia,” Sangqu said.

The Anti-xenophobia Peace March is one of many events that the Social Cohesion Office implements in East London. In order to create and increase awareness among pupils, the Social Cohesion Office will be busy conducting workshops of tolerance in schools in Buffalo Flats as well as Scenery Park.

A sport tournament, cultural diversity festival, Africa and World Refugee Day will also be taking place during the year to encourage peace-building and promote diversity and social cohesion.

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