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Centre to help foreigners opens

Resource type: News

Weekend Post | [ View Original Source (opens in new window) ]

Lee-Anne Butler.  FOREIGNERS who have settled in the Eastern Cape can now get help and support from the newly opened Refugee Rights Centre in Central.

Housed in the Institute for Sustainable Government and Development at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University’s Bird Street campus, the centre became operational on August 2 and has so far helped 15 refugees.

It provides any kind of advice and assistance to foreigners and its staff consists of two attorneys, centre head Linton Harmse and Sarine Broderick.

Harmse said foreigners often had major difficulties with the application process for seeking asylum in the country and were also being discriminated against.

“They suffer varying forms of prejudice because people have this fear of foreigners. They should not be seen like this. They can add incredible value to any country in terms of culture and education and they should be embraced,” said Harmse.

The centre’s collaboration with Legal Aid SA secured the release from detention of a Zimbabwean juvenile earlier this week. Harmse said the young foreigner had no family in Port Elizabeth and had been released into the centre’s care.

Port Elizabeth’s centre is the third at a university in the country and the first in the Eastern Cape. It is funded by the Atlantic Philanthropies and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

All services are free of charge.

“We have helped people from Zimbabwe, Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, but Somalis and Zimbabweans are in the majority.”

Harmse said the centre was also working closely with the police and the Home Affairs Department.

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