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South Africa refuses to host Afghan refugees from Pakistan

Terrified Afghans have been leaving the country after the Taliban takeover. Many countries are sheltering them following American requests (Photo: IANS)

South Africa has said that it will not host Afghan refugees who have fled to Pakistan from their strife-torn homeland.

The South African government declined international requests to host Afghan migrants saying that it is already overburdened with refugees. The request was to hold them in South Africa till they moved on to their final destinations.

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) said: "The South African government notes the overtures made to the country to consider receiving a number of Afghan refugees who have sought refuge in Pakistan. The South African government is unfortunately not in a position to accommodate such a request”.

South Africa in fact emphasised that the wellbeing of the refugees is best served if they stay back in the country of first arrival–which is Pakistan.

Another reason given by the South African government was that its social welfare system is already overburdened.

DIRCO added: "SA is already home to a substantial number of refugees and is seized with addressing their needs. Most of them already benefit from the social assistance and free medical health programmes offered by our country".

In the last few weeks a number of African countries have responded to the American request to provide shelter to Afghan migrants till they find a third country for permanent settlement. Uganda is one such country which has accepted around 2,000 refugees from Afghanistan after financial support from the US. However, local people have raised concerns in Uganda over the arrival of the refugees.

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