South Africa

UNHCR Global Appeal 2015 Update - South Africa



Working environment

  • South Africa’s national legislation incorporates the basic principles of refugee protection, including freedom of movement, the right to work, and access to basic social services. However, some public institutions do not recognize refugees’ permits, preventing them from benefiting fully from these rights. The current socio-economic environment – high unemployment, poor service delivery, and economic inequality – has strained relations between refugees, asylum-seekers and host populations.

  • Reaching refugees remains a challenge for UNHCR as most reside in urban areas.

  • South Africa continues to be a major destination for asylum seekers, as well as migrants and others seeking better economic and social opportunities. There are confirmed reports of human smuggling and trafficking.

  • The asylum system is overwhelmed. The large number of applications has created a backlog, affecting the quality and efficiency of refugee status determination (RSD). Without a comprehensive immigration system, migrant workers and others sometimes try to make use of the asylum system to stay legally and gain access to South Africa’s services. The Government is establishing a border-management agency to regulate immigration and, in July 2014, new regulations came into effect.

  • RSD is carried out by the South African Government. In 2015, it will continue to support international efforts to protect and assist refugees through providing access to health facilities, schools and social services.