A Ghanaian refugee in South Africa marched in a group with other refugees to the office of the UN High Commissioner (UNHCR) of Refugees to demand better treatment of the country’s women refugees.
The women protesters carried children on their backs while singing songs of their struggle, according to a publication from Cape Town, South Africa.
In their hands they held signs that said, “Enough is enough with refugee women abuse”. Among their demands is a more rapid review of their documents, which allow them to remain in the country.
The UNHCR allegedly has more than 200 000 asylum seekers’ applications still pending at the Department of Home Affairs. The pending applications impacts the women’s ability to find employment, which leaves them to depend on their husbands “who can be controlling and sometimes abusive,” according to the march’s organizer.
Afia Lekhutcha from Ghana, said she had three months to leave the country and had been trying to get her documents for five months now but without success. The women claim that UNHCR is not doing its job to “follow the right protocols to assist them as refugees”.
With forced displacement at its highest worldwide in decades, UNHCR offices in multiple countries are forced to make difficult decisions, including cutting back aid to refugees.
Due to the backlog, many refugees are undocumented, meaning they will remain unemployed and sometimes reduced to committing crimes.
The UNHCR was unavailable for comment.