COVID-19 Social Protection and Exclusion Nexus
Narratives of Women Refugees in Durban, South Africa
Keywords:Asylum Seekers, COVID-19, Durban, Exclusion, Refugees, South Africa, Women
Globally, most governments have come up with COVID-19 social relief and protection measures to render expedient and effective assistance to vulnerable populations, ranging from nationals to foreigners. This study utilizes narratives of 15 refugee women and 5 South African women to interrogate whether the South African national COVID-19 social protection and relief policies (such as wage subsidies, social grants and unemployment benefits) have been inclusive. While the South African government has made efforts to meet the obligation of its Refugee Act 130 of 1998, the views of participants reveal that the government’s COVID-19 response policies have been prejudiced into excluding and vilifying refugees and asylum seekers based on the perception that they are outsiders or foreigners. This has increased migrants’ vulnerability to poverty and social disintegration. The study warns that by giving sub-optimal attention to the plight of migrants with regards to combating the COVID-19 pandemic, the South African government risks exacerbating devastating impacts of COVID-19 to both refugees and South Africans alike.
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