“Speak out for those who cannot speak, for the rights of all the destitute. Speak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

Proverbs 31:8-9 

Friday, 13 August 2021

Statelessness is exacerbated by gaps in the implementation of citizenship laws. This has been compounded by the current closure of services at the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) under the COVID-19 national lockdown.

Statelessness is often something we don’t know about. It is preventable. The This Is Home campaign provides practical solutions towards preventing statelessness in South Africa.

These include:
•South Africa to ratify the 1954 UN Convention on the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 UN Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.
•South Africa needs to adopt a National Action Plan to eradicate statelessness.
• DHA to provide outcomes on the already submitted permanent residence by exemption and citizenship by naturalisation applications.
•The DHA to re-open the permanent residence and citizenship sections of the department.
• A special dispensation needs to be added as a legal avenue for vulnerable persons to document themselves, particularly youth in Child and Youth Centres (CYCC) who are at risk of statelessness.
•The DHA to stop the practice of de-linking young people born to refugees and asylum seekers from their parents’ files.

Despite continued barriers and oppressive systems for young people to attain regular documentation in South Africa, we must hold onto the belief that God uses us to bring completion to God’s design for the inclusion and dignity of stateless and disadvantaged outsiders.
Take some time today to reflect on how God is using you to bring to life his design for the inclusion and welcoming of all people. Then, pray that God may give you the courage to speak out and put your faith into action.

*These reflections are based on work being done by the Jesuit Institute, Jesuit Refugee Service and Lawyers for Human Rights on preventing statelessness through a campaign called This Is Home

Dear God,

To whom no one is a stranger: Show yourself to those who yearn to belong. We ask for your presence with those who are lost and separated from family. Have mercy on those who are in limbo and seeking protection. Help us live in an equal world, open our hearts to seeking a more just future for all your people.


Abigail Dawson

Abigail Dawson holds a Masters in Development Studies, Sociology, from the University of Witwatersrand. Her activist and academic interests have focused on migration in a South African context. She is a qualified social worker and has provided counselling for migrant women and children. She hopes to bring change to the current public and global narrative on migration through effective and creative communication, networking and advocacy to ensure equitable communities for all people living in South Africa.

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