South Africa Multi-Country Office
Operation: South Africa Multi-Country Office
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|2019 year-end results|
|7,400||individuals were assisted through training, advocacy and workshops on livelihoods|
|4,600||individuals received legal assistance|
|3,500||people were assessed for vulnerability|
|2,700||people received psychosocial counselling|
|2,000||individuals received cash grants for specific needs|
|1,050||households received core relief items|
|50||individuals were assisted with the voluntary repatriation|
|2019 planning figures|
|40,000||people of concern will receive legal support|
|20,000||people of concern will be assessed for vulnerabilities|
|5,000||people of concern will receive psychosocial support|
|5,000||people of concern will receive targeted assistance in the form of vouchers or subsidy for food and accommodation|
People of Concern
South Africa Multi-Country Office
Operational contextSouth Africa's laws and policies have provided a safe haven to many vulnerable people in need of international protection and support. Its asylum system, however, like in many other countries, was not designed to receive large numbers of asylum-seekers nor to deal with mixed flows of refugees and migrants into the country. This has resulted in a backlog in the national asylum system.
In 2019, UNHCR continued to promote the physical and legal protection of refugees and asylum-seekers, including access to basic rights, by supporting government efforts to reinforce and streamline the asylum system, as well as improving access to documentation.
UNHCR expanded efforts to support social cohesion activities in 2019 and to enhance peace building and assistance to affected communities, including refugees and asylum-seekers as well as host communities.
Population trendsIn 2019, South Africa hosted nearly 273,500 people of concern including some 89,300 refugees and 184,200 asylum-seekers. Most were from (in order of population size) Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Republic of the Congo, Somalia, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. Interest in voluntary repatriation gained momentum in South Africa, especially among Burundian and Congolese refugees.
- UNHCR provided technical support to the Refugee Appeals Board of South Africa to plan to address a backlog of around 150,000 cases.
- UNHCR supported the launch of the Government’s national action plan to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
- UNHCR co-chaired the protection advisory group with the Government.
- UNHCR prioritized capacity development and support to the Department of Home Affairs and the Department of International Relations and Cooperation to address issues of statelessness and assisted in the roll out of the #IBelong Campaign.
- Strains on the asylum system and limited social cohesion projects impeded efforts to support social cohesion and promote inclusion.
- Resources and institutional capacity of governmental stakeholders to address statelessness remained limited. Birth registration and access to nationality documentation continued to be a challenge.
Operational EnvironmentSouth Africa has progressive refugee legislation and both refugees and asylum-seekers enjoy freedom of movement, the right to work and access to social services provided by the Government. However, legislative restrictions, prompted by the scale of mixed movements into the country, are underway. South Africa continues to receive the highest number of asylum applications in the sub-region, combined with a large backlog and complex protection challenges faced by people of concern already in the country.
UNHCR provides technical support to the government on the international protection of refugees, asylum-seekers and stateless persons and works within national political, economic and social structures to bring policies, practices and laws into compliance with international standards.
UNHCR cooperates closely with Departments of Home Affairs, International Development and Cooperation, Social Development and Justice and Constitutional Development. In addition, civil society as well as national and international NGOs continue to play an important role in assisting refugees and asylum-seekers. UNHCR also engages actively with individuals and companies through the continent-wide LuQuLuQu fundraising and advocacy campaign. UNHCR coordinates closely with the UN Country Team and chairs the UN Protection Working Group, cooperating with the Government and civil society to prevent and respond to violence towards foreigners.
UNHCR engages with communities and community-based organisations across the country through the facilitation of information sessions, thematic workshops, advocacy meetings, dialogues between people of concern and the host community as well as through the provision of support to specific community projects. UNHCR-supported legal aid clinics operate in five different provinces. UNHCR’s livelihood programme includes the provision of micro-grants for businesses, improving and building up work-related skills for women, local language training, and vocational skills training. Enhanced access to livelihoods will assist refugees in local integration and allow them to contribute to local communities, resulting in improved relations between the refugee and host communities. Refugees and asylum-seekers with specific needs benefit also from multipurpose cash assistance or cash-for-rent allowance.
Key PrioritiesIn 2019, UNHCR will focus on:
- Advocating for fair refugee status determination procedures and quality decisions as well as providing support to the relevant government departments and civil society actors in protection of refugees and asylum-seekers;
- promoting physical and legal protection of refugees and asylum-seekers, through working towards minimizing the threat of violence and enhancing social cohesion between refugee and local communities;
- in line with multi-year, multi-partner protection and solutions-strategy, continuing to establish and strengthen relationships with non-traditional stakeholders to enhance the protection of refugees and asylum-seekers in South Africa;
- continuing to advocate through the Southern African Development Community for the strengthening of the protection of refugees and asylum-seekers as well as stateless persons in the sub-region, particularly through the Migration Dialogue for Southern Africa process.