Click here to see the numbers and origins of refugees hosted by South Africa.
As UNHCR statistics generally rely on data from host countries, statistics on refugees alone can give an insufficient account of refugee numbers, as some host countries will not grant refugee status to certain groups. Including statistics for individuals in refugee-like situations is an attempt to account for unrecognised refugees and does not include internally displaced persons. Statistics for stateless refugees are included if available.
Adonis Musati Project
The Adonis Musati Project provides humanitarian assistance to asylum seekers and refugees in Cape Town. The project runs a centre which provides lay counselling, advice and referral to clients, as well as welfare/food support. The main aim is to facilitate access to basic services such as health care, legal representation, education, training, shelter, trauma counselling, services for minors, etc. They also educate clients on their rights as asylum seekers or refugees in South Africa, and advise them on how to access proper documentation.
The Project also runs a homeless outreach programme, distributing food and information to homeless asylum seekers and refugees in various areas around Cape Town. They offer support groups for single mothers with health problems, and also run an Independent Living Programme for youths.
ARESTA - Agency for Refugee Education, Skills, Training & Advocacy
Foundation for Community Work / Early Learning Centre, 22 Springbok Street, Kewtown, Athlone, 7764, Cape Town
P.O.Box 821, Cape Town 8000
Tel: +27 (0)21 633 8762
Fax: +27 (0)86 514 8956
Email: infoaresta [dot] org [dot] za
Opening Hours: Monday-Thursday 08:30-16:30 and Friday 08:30-15:30
Services include counselling & guidance for education & employment. This includes refugee rights awareness, English lessons and sewing & beading classes (they are in the process of opening a small shop). ARESTA also runs quarterly 5 day workshops for 12 women on Domestic Violence training of trainers and quarterly HIV/AIDS training for counselors and caregivers of infected refugees as well as income generating workshops to enable refugees to start businesses.
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Elta House, 3 Caledonian Street, Mowbray 7700
Postal Address: Black Sash National Office, PO Box 1282, Cape Town 8000
Tel: +27 21 68 66 952
Fax: +27 21 68 66 971
Hotline: 073-66 33 739 or Email: helpblacksash [dot] org [dot] za
Email: infoblacksash [dot] org [dot] za
National Director: Lynette Maart
Email: lynetteblacksash [dot] org [dot] za
Black Sash list information on their website about the rights of refugees and the asylum process in South Africa. Their helpline also offers free paralegal advice and support. Black Sash also have a number of regional offices listed on their website.
Cape Town Refugee Centre
F12 First Floor, Wynberg Centre, 123 Main Road, Wynberg 7800, Cape Town
Tel: +27 (021) 76 29 670
Fax: +27 (021) 76 12 294
Email: infoctrc [dot] co [dot] za
Monday and Tuesday: Screening 09:00-12:00 and Thursday: Clients are seen by appointment only and Wednesday and Friday: No clients are seen on these days
Provides Psycho-Social Intervention Services to assist vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers with material assistance such as accommodation, food vouchers, clothes, and blankets, as well as to provide psycho-social support in the form of counseling or referral to appropriate institutions. The refugee centre also tries to encourage refugee and asylum seeker children of school-going age to attend school by providing parents and guardians with adequate information and building good relationships with the schools. CTRC offers language programmes for French speaking learners and those who need remedial English classes and also offers financial assistance to refugee and asylum seeker learners, contributing to the payment of school fees and transportation as well as the purchasing of books, school supplies/stationary, and uniforms.
CTRC also attempts to equip refugees and asylum seekers with practical and technical skills for employment, and to help refugees start income generating ventures to allow them to achieve self-reliance and economic independence.
CoRMSA - Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa
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5th floor, Braamfontein Centre, 23 Jorissen Street, Braamfontein, Johannesburg, 2001, South Africa
Tel: +27 11 40 37 560
Fax: +27 11 40 37 559
Email: infocormsa [dot] org [dot] za
Contact People : Roshan Dadoo, Director (roshancormsa [dot] org [dot] za); Sicel’mpilo Shange-Buthane, Executive Director; Thifulufheli Sinthumule, National Programme Coordinator (thifulufhelicormsa [dot] org [dot] za); Gloria Makxeta, Admin/Finance Officer (infocormsa [dot] org [dot] za)
CoRMSA is a consortium of organisations focused on protecting and promoting refugee and migrant rights. It is comprised of many organisations, including legal practitioners, research groups, as well as refugee and migrant communities. CoRMSA’s mandate involves strengthening the partnerships between refugee and migrant service providers to provide improved co-ordination of activities. It provides information on all steps of the refugee application process in South Africa. Further, it is a member of the Hate Crimes Working Group, which is lobbying for the introduction of policy and legislation around hate crimes, for as such there is none. There is also research on hate crimes, access to asylum, access to services, detention & deportation, disaster response, SADC and international migration, xenophobia, safety and security.
They advocate at both a regional (Sub-Saharan Africa) and local level, and publish a newsletter each month keeping stakeholders updated on the organisation’s commitments and actions towards refugees. They publish policy briefs and guides on how to protect one’s rights, services for refugees & migrants in South Africa, a handbook for legal practitioners on arrest & detention, and the LHR refugee information guide. They publish recent news related to refugee issues.
It is recommended for refugees and legal practitioners who need to access and contact a more complete list of legal aid NGOs in South Africa than appear below.
Gamede Attorneys & Conveyancers
14 Drennin Drive, Lonehill, Sandton
Tel: +27 11 465 0775
Fax: +27 11 27 11 46 73 942 or 08 66 65 81 14 or 08 65 55 28 96
Mobile: +27 83 817 5813
Gamede Attorneys and Conveyancers is a law firm based in Johannesburg which is dedicated to the use of the legal system to advance human rights, struggle against violations, and ensure access to justice. Gamede is a full service law firm comprising a group of lawyers whose goal is to provide innovative legal solutions to for the protection of human rights. Although the firm charges legal fees for service, they charge reduced rates for refugees. They are discussing with a refugee organisation the possibility of setting up a refugee legal services centre that is membership-based and supported by small monthly retainer fees.
Jesuit Refugee Services in Southern Africa (JRS)
The Jesuit Refugee Services Limpopo project is located in Makhado, South Africa, where the project offers assistance to hundreds of Zimbabwean refugees daily. Help is offered in a number of ways: transport to other parts of South Africa where refugees have a promise of a welcome; food; clothing and blankets; accommodation. These services are offered to all who come, but particular focus is given to women, children and the elderly.
JRS also has a Pretoria-based asylum seeker and refugee assistance programme. Services are provided on the basis of assessment of need. These services include emergency aid; access to education and healthcare; and long-term facilitation of their integration into the local community.
Lawyers for Human Rights - Refugee and Migrant Rights Project
Room S104, Diakonia Centre 20th Diakonia Avenue (formerly St. Andrews Street) DURBAN 4001
Tel: +27 03 13 01 05 31
Fax: +27 03 13 01 05 38
Email: petrinaprobono [dot] org [dot] za%20">petrinaprobono [dot] org [dot] za (Projects)
Email: shahistaprobono [dot] org [dot] za (Clinics)
Office and Law Clinic: 4th Floor, Heerengracht Building, 87 de Korte Street, Braamfontein
Tel: +27 (0)1 13 39 19 60
Fax: +27 (0)1 13 39 26 65
Contact person: Marilyn Budow, Marilynlhr [dot] org [dot] za
General Email: joburglhr [dot] org [dot] za
Kutlwanong Democracy Centre, 357 Visagie Street, Pretoria 0002
Tel: +27 (012) 32 02 943
Fax: +27 (012) 32 02 949 or +27 32 07 681
Contact person: Jacob Van Garderen, jacoblhr [dot] org [dot] za
Established in 1996, the LHR Refugee and Migrant Rights Project is a specialist programme that advocates, strengthens and enforces the rights of asylum seekers, refugees and other marginalised categories of migrants in South Africa.
The project team consists of 8 lawyers, a social worker, two paralegals and 2 administrators who operate from the project's legal advice offices in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Port Elizabeth.The project provides free legal services to indigent asylum seekers, refugees and migrant clients. Litigation is used as a tool to advance our client's rights and to develop African jurisprudence in the field of refugee and immigration law.
LHR also undertakes vigorous detention monitoring which documents the human rights abuses suffered by migrants in the detention and deportation process, and advocates for policy reform. Legal assistance is also given to those who have been unlawfully arrested and who are at risk of deportation. LHR is also an active member of the International Detention Coalition.
LHR regularly undertakes training of social workers, police officers and refugee communities on the rights and needs of refugees and migrants. They also produce a handbook of information for refugees, available on their website. The first part provides important information on how to apply for asylum and seek legal assistance, where to find material assistance, how to access social assistance such as health, education, employment, trauma- and psychological support both from government and non-governmental sources. It also provides general information about South Africa.
Legal Resource Centre
15th and 16th Floor, Bram Fischer Towers, 20 Albert Street, Marshalltown, Johannesburg
Postal Address: P O Box 9495, Johannesburg 2000
Tel: +27 11 83 69 831
Fax: +27 11 83 44 273
General Email: infolrc [dot] org [dot] za
15th Floor, Bram Fischer Towers, 20 Albert Street, Marshalltown, Johannesburg
Tel: +27 11 83 69 831
Fax: +27 11 83 44 273
Contact person: Naseema Fakir
116 High Street, Grahamstown 6139
Tel +27 46 622 9230
Fax +27 46 622 3933
The LRC is South Africa’s largest non-profit legal centre. They have four regional offices that offer front-desk legal services and assistance to all people living in South Africa. The LRC seeks creative and effective solutions to legal problems by using a range of strategies. These include impact litigation, law reform, participation in partnerships and development processes, education, and networking within South Africa, the African continent and at the international level. Their work includes providing legal advice and assistance to refugees and asylum seekers or offering referral services when necessary.
37 Church Street, Wynberg
Tel.: +27 02 17 62 03 22
Email: officepassop [dot] co [dot] za
PASSOP is a not-for-profit human rights organisation devoted to promoting and protecting the rights of asylum-seekers, refugees and immigrants in South Africa. Beyond running anti-xenophobia campaigns, holding integration events and political and social activism, PASSOP offers free paralegal advice and assistance on all documentation and work-related claims. Other welfare support, including help with CV-writing, is also on offer.
Email: infoprobono [dot] org [dot] za
9th Floor, Nedbank Building
Durban Club Place (off Anton Lembede Street)
Durban, 4001, South Africa
Tel: +27 (0) 31 30 16 178
Fax: +27 (0) 31 301 6941
Email: petrinaprobono [dot] org [dot] za for projects and shahistaprobono [dot] org [dot] za for the refugee law clinic
Weekly Clinic on Tuesdays.
Tel: +27 11 33 96 080
Email: infoprobono [dot] org [dot] za
Phone number unknown
357 Visagie Street
ProBono.Org facilitates the provision of free legal services through the volunteerism of private lawyers. ProBono.Org screens, matches and refers clients to volunteer private lawyers. It holds weekly Refugee Legal Clinics in Johannesburg and Durban as well as a fortnightly Refugee Legal Clinic in Pietermaritzburg.
Refugee Children’s Project
111 Corner Kerk and Mooi Street, 5th floor, Suite 510-513, Johannesburg 2001
Postal Address: P.O. Box 15744 Dornfontein 2028, Johannesburg
Tel: +27 11 33 39 266
Fax: +27 11 33 38 757
Its specific focus on children and their primary caregivers distinguishes RCP from other organisations assisting, protecting and advocating on behalf of refugees and migrants.RCP aims to provide direct and indirect services that facilitate the integration of refugee women and children into the host community.
Refugee Ministries Centre
34 Cooper Street, Cyrildene 2198, Johannesburg 2190
Tel: +27 (0) 11 62 28 771 or +27 61 55 608
Fax: +27 08 65 03 90 69
Email: inforefugeeministriescentre [dot] org [dot] za
Walk-in Centre: 13 Wanderers Street, Cnr Plein/Wanderers Street, Johannesburg
Tel: +27 (0)1 13 33 84 52
RMC has a social programme to facilitate refugees' access to basic humanitarian needs such as education, shelter, food and health facilities, as well as assistance on how to acquire proper refugee and asylum documentation. They run a paralegal consultation at their Walk-in Centre in Johannesburg at the St Mary’s Anglican Cathedral. This is where refugees and asylum seekers are received and are given Intake Forms and cases assigned to the Case Workers depending on the type of case.
Common Cases received at the Centre include those denied access to the asylum process; individuals whose applications are denied by the Department of Home Affairs, relatives or friends are detained; those whose human rights have been violated by government officials, those denied access to medical health care; those whose children are unable to access education either due to lack of proper documents or unable to pay the registration and school fees; those who need general social assistance e.g. food, shelter and medication.
The Scalabrini Centre
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47 Commercial Street, Cape Town, 8001
Tel: +27 21 48 56 433
Fax: +27 21 48 56 317
Opening Hours of the Centre: Monday-Friday 09:00–16:30 and Saturday 09:00–13:00
Perceiving migration as an opportunity, the Scalabrini Centre offers development and welfare programmes to the migrant and local communities of Cape Town. In providing our assistance we use a holistic approach that considers all basic needs and our human rights.
With a team of 26 people and the revolving help of about 40 volunteers, Scalabrini Centre offers programmes dealing with welfare, training and assistance with access to local services through referrals to schooling, bank accounts, health care, legal representation, qualification accreditation and social assistance.
University of Cape Town Refugee Rights Unit
Kramer Law School Building,
Tel: (27) 21 650 5581
Fax: (27) 21 650 4107
Email: refugeelawclinicuct [dot] ac [dot] za
Contact(s); fatima [dot] khanuct [dot] ac [dot] za (Fatima Khan), justin [dot] dejageruct [dot] ac [dot] za (Justin Dejager), and james [dot] chapmanuct [dot] ac [dot] za (James Chapman)
The Refugee Rights Unit was created to offer crucial legal services to the growing number of refugees and asylum seekers in South Africa. Thus the project engages in wide-range consultations with clients where by legal services are offered freely to refugees and asylum seekers on a variety of issues. In following our core value that 'an exile does not cease to be a human being', our vision is to assist refugees and asylum seekers in legal matters throughout South Africa.
The Unit was initially funded solely by UNHCR when it became a legal implementing partner of UNHCR. However, the Unit's funders have expanded to include Atlantic Philantropies and The Sigrid Rausing Trust. It is run as a legal implementing partner of the UNHCR and it assists refugees and asylum seekers secure and maintain their human rights, steer through the asylum process as well as providing assistance with voluntary repatriation and local integration.
In addition to providing legal advice and advocacy assistance to refugees and asylum seekers, the Unit contributes to research on a number of areas pertaining to refugee and asylum law.
University of Kwazulu-Natal Law Clinic
Tel: +27 33 260 6257
Email: louwrukzn [dot] ac [dot] za
The Law Clinic at the University of Kwazulu-Natal provides access to justice for indigent members of the South African community. The Law Clinic operates as a public interest law firm and specializes in a number of areas, including gender law and children’s rights.
University of Witwatersrand: Wits Law Clinic
Wits Law Clinic,1 Jan Smuts Avenue, Braamfontein, Johannesburg
Tel: +27 (0)1 17 17 85 62
The Law Clinic at the University of Witwatersrand is operated in conjunction with the Legal Aid Board. Legal advice and assistance is provided by both law students and by specialist staff to those who would otherwise be unable to afford it. The clinic is therefore both a teaching institution and a legal service provider. Clients are represented in courts ranging from the District Magistrate’s Court to the Constitutional Court.