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Johannesburg - Pressure on Angolan refugees to return home is increasing, with a government committee announcing plans to review their status.
This week, the standing committee for refugee affairs gazetted the notice of its intention to review the status of all Angolan refugees.
The war in Angola ended in 2002, and the refugees have been encouraged to return to their home country.
The South African government’s deadline for the end of Angolan refugee status is the end of this month.
The committee was set up in terms of the Refugees Act, and may withdraw refugee status.
The notice said the committee had concluded that the circumstances in Angola have changed to the extent that no Angolan who previously sought asylum on the basis of the unrest and security in that country, during and shortly after the civil war, can continue to refuse to avail him or herself of the protection of that state.
It took into account the declaration last January of the cessation of the Angolan refugee situation by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the South African cabinet’s endorsement of the declaration.
In 2009, the UNHCR had announced plans to end the Angolan refugee situation.
Last February, the then home affairs minister, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, told the UNHCR that 15 000 Angolan refugees and asylum-seekers had arrived in South Africa before 2008.
At the time, she pointed out that there were still an estimated 5 810 refugees living in the country, and that South Africa had been encouraging their voluntary repatriation.
In May, the Cabinet set August 31 as the end of the refugee status for Angolans, extending the initial deadline of June 2012.
Those who wanted to stay were told to apply for permanent residence. This involves obtaining a valid Angolan passport before applying for South African residency.
Angolans have protested at the move, saying many of them have been here for years, some up to two decades, and have children who were born here. They say they are unsure of their future in Angola.
The Department of Home Affairs previously called on Angolan refugees to report to their offices.
These include the Tshwane Events Centre (formerly the Pretoria showgrounds) in Souter Street, Pretoria; Moore Street, Durban; and Customs House, Heerengracht Street, Cape Town.