JOHANNESBURG– Home Affairs (Interior) Minister Malusi Gigaba says South Africa’s contribution to the protection of refugees is not merely borne out of gratitude for humankind’s efforts, but is borne out of humaneness and conviction in the ethos of human rights and freedoms.

We know that in some instances we are found wanting, incapable of fulfilling our own best intentions because of lack of capacity and sometimes inadequate policy responses. But we do our best under the circumstances and our efforts thus far to host and provide protection to refugees have demonstrated our sincerest political will, Gigaba said.

Speaking at the World Refugee Day Commemoration at Constitutional Hill in Johannesburg on Wednesday, Gigaba thanked South Africans for the generosity they have demonstrated over the years as they hosted more than 126,000 refugees recorded since 2009 and many more asylum seekers.

It is estimated that more than 68 million people throughout the world today are refugees.

This affirms not only our continued gratitude to peoples of the world, particularly those of Africa, who hosted fellow South Africans as refugees during the apartheid-colonial era, but it also affirms our continued conviction in the principle of human and African solidarity,” said Gigaba.

We need global leadership and vision based on our common humanity, respect for international obligations, and the desire to create a better world. Hardening official attitudes to refugees by governments, and in the political discourse, of several wealthy countries in the global North should concern us all.

World Refugee Day is observed annually on June 20. This is the 18th year of the event, run by the United Nations Refugee Agency, to state that the world supports and stands with refugees. The event is about raising global awareness of global responsibility for refugees.