Protect and Celebrate Contributions Made by Refugees

The Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CoRMSA) observes World Refugee Day 2013 by calling for more recognition of the positive contributions refugees make in their host countries. The world observes World Refugee Day on 20 June every year. 2013 is no different. Hundreds of events have been organised to commemorate this day. The sad reality is that people continue to be displaced on a daily basis as we continue to witness human suffering because of conflicts in the Middle East, Africa and various parts of the world.
 
In South Africa, we have recently seen the displacement of refugees and other non-nationals due to violence and looting of their shops over the past few weeks including on the eve of this World Refugee Day.
  
On this World Refugee Day, CoRMSA calls for increased recognition of the positive contributions that refugees make in South Africa. In recognising and visibly promoting these contributions beyond this day, we will be able to enlighten the general public on benefits that refugees offer the country while dispelling the many negative myths and stereotypes attributed to this group.
  
This day is recognised in the same month as we remember the sacrifices made by South African youth in 1976 in struggling against oppression. It is thus befitting that we also celebrate the achievements made by refugee youth who despite being uprooted and sometimes going through traumatic experiences, are able to rise beyond these circumstances and make positive contributions towards their country of refuge.
  
Recent events that resulted in the looting and displacement of foreign-owned shops poses a critical question for South Africa as a country in relation not only to the respect for the rule of law but also related to lawlessness on the part of those holding demonstrations and the country’s ability to manage this. In this regard, we therefore call for increased protection for all in South African communities and in particular vulnerable groups including those refugees engaged in small business trading in various parts of the country. By promoting safety and security for all, we are ensuring proper integration of all groups within our society.
   
- Sicel’mpilo Shange-Buthane is executive director at the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa. Alfani Yoyo is advocacy officer in the same organisation. 

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