World Refugee Day 2016

Human rights organization PASSOP welcomes World Refugee Day as we commend the courage of those forced to flee their countries as a result of war, oppression, persecution and other human rights violations. The UNHCR Global Trend report states that currently 6.5 million people are forced to flee their homes. We celebrate the global community’s efforts in working towards securing the rights and safety of displaced peoples.

Today, we struggle with addressing the rights of people who are forced to flee their country of origin. The long-standing debate continues over who qualifies as a refugee. This reality severely hampers the humanitarian efforts aimed at protecting and defending the lives of displaced peoples around the world. The UNHCR defines a refugee as someone “who has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.” It is imperative to highlight that the narrow definition of refugee has made it difficult for the displaced to receive basic human rights. Those forced to migrate due to economic issues and climate change rarely receive proper documentation. As a result, those who are not granted refugee status are detained, deported, or denied healthcare, education and the proper permits to work.

At a time when those seeking refugee status is at a record high it is of the upmost importance to shine a light on the world’s progress in fighting for the rights and safety of all displaced people. We applaud not only the nations, but also their citizens who have opened their doors to refugees in order to allow them a safe space to dream again. We at PASSOP would like to take the opportunity, to express our love and admiration for each and everyone one of these heroes. Further, on this World Refugee Day, we challenge everyone to stand together as a beacon of light to those oppressed and persecuted everywhere so that they understand they are not alone, and the world can become a brighter place.

We Stand With Orlando

South African based human rights organization People Against Suffering Oppression and Poverty (PASSOP) offers our deepest and most heartfelt condolences to the families, friends and communities affected by the horrific event that took place at Pulse in Orlando, Florida. We would like to express our profound shock and sorrow as we join millions across the globe in grieving for those who lost their lives.

PASSOP continues to stand in solidarity and support with the LGBTQ community, and also continues to stand up against Islamaphobia. As an organization based outside of the United States we cannot claim to know any intricate details of what transpired, but we can see clearly that such a tragedy must be handled very carefully to bring people together, not to divide them. It is our plea to the people during this painful time, that they resist the demonization of any community and that they remind the world of our humanity and interconnectedness. If there is to be a focus of frustration let it be on the ease at which the perpetrator was able to access such heavy artillery.

There has been a long and tragic history of violence at LGBTQ bars and clubs in the United States (and many other countries); we can only imagine how triggering this event has been on the community. It is already difficult to exist in this world as a minority, something both the Muslim community and the LGBTQ community know well, such terrible violation of your safe space must be devastating, we send our deepest sympathies to both these communities. We support the movement in the United States to pass effective gun control laws, and hope to see that day soon.

PASSOP wants to reiterate its commitment to advancing peace and the condemnation of violence and hatred. We further reject attempts to generalize any community based on the actions of individuals, we call upon media, particularly media within the US, to be careful in their coverage of this horrific event and to avoid further hate or creating stigma of and tensions between two vulnerable communities.

We join the absolute majority of the world when we say “let us stand together in the fight against homophobia, xenophobia, Islamaphobia, hate and senseless violence.”

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As we remember the heroic youth in South Africa who died for freedom on June 16th 1976, we will be joining the vigil in solidarity with the people of Orlando and the world. Please join us.

Thursday 16 June 2016, at the Pride Shelter: 1 Molteno rd, Oranjezicht, 5:30pm

 Concerns About Gupta Gigaba Visa Attack

While PASSOP shares and understands the concerns of many South Africans regarding allegations of corruption and abuse of state resources, we are disappointed with those in opposition and the media who have portrayed anti-immigration sentiments and xenophobia in their attack against Minister Malusi Gigaba. The Minister has been accused of several things, and although we are not privy to detailed information, we know that many of the allegations refer to decisions made during the preceding Minister’s term. PASSOP is particularly concerned that people from other SADC countries who are currently living in South Africa with no documentation and are being offered illegal methods to legalize their stay in South Africa—which is only a money making ruse. Selfish tactics such as this are an insult to the thousands of beneficiaries and demonizes their legalization process. The documentation project, which is aimed to extend Zimbabwean’s permits, was done at a reduced rate and was accepted by civil society when the fee was announced. The new process was largely accepted as it was less cumbersome than the previous permit extension process where Zimbabweans would have to return to Zimbabwe to apply for an extension.

PASSOP appeals to the media and those in opposition to avoid bringing immigrations into any scandal placing them at risk. Over 270,000 immigrants are legally sound and must not be put into question. The allegation that “Gigaba and Guptas will allow South Africa to flood, because they are earning money from their documents” is an extremist anti-immigration viewpoint and dangerous in South Africa. Those opposed must realize that this is not an acceptable way to raise concerns around any issue. If there is any corruption it must be dealt with professionally, but using immigrants in public sound bites is intolerable.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Bernard Toyambi at 073 121 9625.

PASSOP Calls for an Extension of Lesotho Special Permit Closing Date

PASSOP is appealing to the Department of Home Affairs for an extension of the Lesotho Special Permit (LSP) until 30 September 2016, following the media statement made by Minister Malusi Gigaba during his visit to the Lesotho Special Permit Centre on Tuesday 10 May 2016. According to the Department of Home Affairs and Lesotho’s National Population Register, there are between 400,000 to 500,000 Basotho’s living and working in South Africa. Unfortunately, as Minister Gigaba was briefed by VFS management on the levels of applications since the process was opened in February 2016 only 5,694 applications have been successfully submitted which less than 2% of the number of Basotho living in South Africa. PASSOP believes that the extension of project is necessary and imperative in order to find a way to spread the message to the Basotho nationals living in South Africa because it will be unrealistic to complete the process by 30 June 2016. Our experience in De Doorns provides evidence that most of Basotho nationals are not well informed about the programme and therefore, they are facing several challenges including difficulties with completing the online application and a lack of adequate and reliable transport from De Doorns to Cape Town (~ 200km) in order to submit their applications.

Moreover, PASSOP condemns the negative behavior of some employers who refuse to issue letters of employment to their employees which would allow them to finalize the application process.  We appeal to employers to issue their employees with letters of employment. We reiterate our support to Minister Malusi’s comment “We want to see the Basotho becoming a part of South African society without fear of deportation and to formalize their stay in South Africa.” PASSOP believes that the Special Dispensation Project will be also extended to other SADC Countries after Lesotho.

Lesotho Special Permit

The Ministry of Home Affairs in Lesotho and the Department of Home Affairs in South Africa have created a Lesotho Special Permit for Lesotho Nationals who are illegally residing in South Africa. The program initially would end on 30 June 2016, but with the low number of applicants, both governments will likely extend the deadline. All applicants need only have resided in South Africa before 30 September 2015 and meet the listed qualifications to be eligible for the special permit.

This is a great opportunity for Lesotho natives to obtain legal documentation while living in South Africa.

If you have any questions, please contact PASSOP at

Special Permit