The cards will be issued free of charge to first time recipients.
The Department of Home Affairs announced that it is in the process of introducing a new Smart Card ID which will grant refugees rights to access all government services.
Delivering the keynote address at the commemoration of World Refugee Day in Playhouse on Tuesday, Deputy Minister Fatima Chohan said that the smart card will be based on the same technology as the smart card that are issued to South African citizens.
She said the smart cards will be issued to all newly qualified refugees and those whose status is renewed. The cards will be issued free of charge to first time recipients.
“While a number of asylums have dropped significantly, we are seeking a larger percentage of applicants being granted refugee status,” Chohan said. “Our approval rate has grown from around 5 percent in the last five years to under 10 percent in the last two years,” she said. The deputy minister said World Refugee Day is the commemoration of the courageous spirit of human beings who are persecuted and whose lives have been destroyed by war.
She said a number of people who have been displaced by war conflicts or persecution has reached over 60 million people which exclude those who have died and lost families.
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“South Africa should reflect in why we need leadership that will pursue the path to transition based on the tried and tested values that our creed is to embrace diversity,” she said. She said we need to celebrate our differences because that is what makes us people in the history of mankind.
Among the guests who addressed the official programme were Social Cohesion advocate Ashantewa Archer-Ngidi, the chairman of the Playhouse, Hlengiwe Mgabadeli, Dr Egide Ndayishiye from the refugee community and UNCHR regional representative, Veronica Modey- Ebi.
Representative of refugees Denis Mbasha Cwebweru thanked the South African government for allowing refugees to have dialogue and play soccer with South Africans in Inanda on Saturday.
Cwebweru said the challenges refugees face is not collaborating with the citizens and that makes them (refugees) feel bad. He said when there are events such as playing soccer with the citizens there won’t be problems like Xenophobia.
“We need occasions where South Africans and refugees can do things like cultural activities, sports and many more. That’s how we can work together,” he said. Before the official programme, citizens and refugees engaged in a dialogue where they discussed the problems they face and how to tackle them.