Australian government denies SA 'refugee' applications

2020-02-29 14:06
Australia's Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton

Australia's Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton (Photo: Getty Images)

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The visas of a number of South Africans applying for refugee status have been denied by the Australian government, according to a report by the Saturday Star.

This comes amid a recent surge in applications following a suggestion by Australian Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton in 2018 that white South African farmers should be given attention under the Australian humanitarian programme.

He had instructed his department to consider claims from South African farmers whose families had suffered murder, torture or rape.

Following Dutton's remarks, more than 200 South Africans applied for Australian humanitarian visas in 89 applications, News24 previously reported. Dutton has previously stated that he would welcome white South African farmers and has labelled them a "persecuted group".

South African lobby group AfriForum has continuously raised concerns over farm attacks in South Africa. Last year, the organisation claimed 184 farm attacks and 20 farm murders had taken place in about six months. However, the group has lobbied for safety reforms and government interventions, telling the Saturday Star that the granting of refugee status in Australia will not solve the problem.

According to Australian media, the recent applicants applied for protection and humanitarian visas. Their rejection letters reportedly stated that the risk of murder and serious physical or sexual assaults is one faced by the entire population and that the applicants did not personally face these risks.

Australia considers a refugee to be "someone who has a well-founded fear they will be seriously harmed because of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a social group", according to the home affairs website.

The home affairs department said many other visas – including skilled, temporary and family visas – were open to South Africans and that nearly 80 000 visas had been granted to South Africans since July 2018. Out of all foreign-born residents, South Africans rank eighth (at 181 400), according to 2016 census data, and make up 0.8% of the Australian population. 

- Compiled by Nicole McCain

Read more on:    peter dutton  |  austrailia  |  refugees  |  migrants
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