Refugees, Asylum Seekers & Migrant Protections

South Africa attracts the largest number of asylum seekers in the world. They face many obstacles, including the constant threat of deportation, government red tape, xenophobia, and lack of social and medical assistance when they come to South Africa.

In 2008, foreigners, many of them asylum seekers, were the object of violent xenophobic attacks, which took place mostly in Gauteng and the Western Cape. Many victims, who had once been integrated community residents, remain starkly displaced as outsiders.

The LRC’s refugee rights work includes the following:

  • Under South Africa’s Refugee Act, asylum claims are to be processed within 180 days of receipt. However, huge backlogs remain, and additionally, many asylum seekers with valid claims have been denied asylum.
  • Refugees are often unable to obtain proof of identify, preventing them from opening bank accounts or finding jobs because they lack identify documents. The rollout of new smartcard identity cards for refugees has also been greatly delayed.
  • Applications for permanent residence involve other concerns. The government recently decided that foreigners may not hold more than one permit at a time and that refugees should not change their status or asylum seekers their permits if they marry South African citizens or have children with South African citizens.

Please watch the above video concerning obstacles that refugees and asylum seekers face in South Africa.