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Asy­lum seek­ers enter­ing South Africa face many obsta­cles includ­ing the con­stant threat of depor­ta­tion, gov­ern­ment red tape, xeno­pho­bia, and lack of social and med­ical assis­tance.

In May 2008 and in the months that fol­lowed, the public’s atten­tion was focused trag­i­cally on the vio­lent xeno­pho­bic attacks on for­eign­ers, many of whom are asy­lum seek­ers, in South Africa. The attacks took place mostly in Gaut­eng and in the West­ern Cape, and many of these once-integrated com­mu­nity res­i­dents are now starkly dis­placed as out­siders. One of the ways in which the response to this cri­sis did not meet the need was in the lack of pro­vi­sion of ade­quate and safe acco­mo­da­tions and in the lack of plan­ning for the effec­tive re-integration of dis­placed per­sons.

All of the issues that asy­lum seek­ers and refugees face in South Africa are not nec­es­sar­ily of a legal nature and there­fore the LRC is not able to assist in each case. We focus our energy on the issues which often under­mine the basic human rights of refugees and asy­lum seek­ers.

Appli­ca­tions for refugee sta­tus:

The Refugee Act makes pro­vi­sion for an asy­lum claim to be processed within 180 days of receipt. How­ever, there are huge back­logs in the num­ber of claims that are processed. Many asy­lum seek­ers with valid claims are also rejected and denied asy­lum.

Refugee iden­tity cards / travel doc­u­ments:

There has been much delay with the roll out of the new smart­card iden­tity cards for refugees. The process of obtain­ing proof of iden­tity is fur­ther being frus­trated, as the book form of iden­tity doc­u­ment is also not issued by Refugee Affairs.

Refugees suf­fer greatly as a result of this, as their sta­tus is often not recog­nised. For exam­ple, it is impos­si­ble for a refugee to open a bank account with­out an iden­tity doc­u­ment.

Res­i­dence per­mits:

Appli­ca­tions for per­ma­nent as well as tem­po­rary res­i­dence are another area of con­cern. The Depart­ment has recently decided that a for­eigner can­not 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.






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National Offices

Tel: +27 11 836 9831
Email: info@lrc.org.za

Address: 15th and 16th Floor, Bram Fis­cher Tow­ers,
20 Albert Street, Mar­shall­town, Johan­nes­burg
PO Box 9495, Johan­nes­burg 2000

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