South Africa on Wednesday declined a United Nations request to receive Afghan refugees because it already has a substantial number of foreign nationals who have sought refuge in the country.
The request is that the refugees be accommodated in South Africa en-route to their final destinations.
“The South African Government notes the overtures made to the Country to consider receiving a number of Afghanistan refugees who have sought refuge in Pakistan,” said Clayson Monyela, spokesperson for the department of international relations and cooperation (DIRCO).
He added: “The South African government is unfortunately not in a position to accommodate such a request.
“South Africa 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.”
DIRCO said in terms of international law, the well-being of the refugees is best served by remaining in the first country arrival – Pakistan – pending their final destinations.
The United Nations Security Council has been urging countries to take in refugees from Afghanistan.
The BBC reports that more than 123 000 civilians were evacuated by US forces and its coalition partners after the Taliban took control of the capital, Kabul, on 14 August – but it’s unclear exactly how many of those were Afghan nationals.