• Food Aid Needed for Refugees in Africa

    The World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) have launched an urgent appeal to address a funding shortfall that has already resulted in food ration cuts for a third of all African refugees.

    In light of nearly 800 000 refugees in 22 African countries having their monthly food allocations reduced, most of them by more than half since mid-June, WFP appeals for US$186 million to maintain its food assistance to refugees through the end of the year, while UNHCR asks for US$39 million to fund nutritional support and food security activities to refugees in the affected countries.

    A joint report by WFP and UNHCR warns that the failure to prevent continued ration cuts will lead to high levels of malnutrition, particularly among children and the most vulnerable. 

    To read the article titled, “New thinking needed on food aid for refugees in Africa,” click here.

    IRIN News
  • UNHCR Commends SA’s Refugee Legislation

    The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says South Africa has the best refugee legislation in the world.

    UNHCR representative for Southern Africa, Clementine Nkweta-Salami, says the South African government has taken great strides to meet its international obligations towards refugees.

    Nkweta-Salami explains: "I think for the vast majority of refugees, they would acknowledge that they do receive good treatment from both the authorities and the South Africans in the communities. But at the same time we are all aware that we do continue to face incidents of violence, refugees being attacked.”

    To read the article titled, “SA has best refugee legislation: UN,” click here.

    SABC News
  • Refugee Family’s Grant Card Rejected

    A Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) family, who are refugees in South Africa, were left cash-strapped for months after their children’s social grant card was rejected several times at South African Social Security Agency (SASSA).

    The father, who is concerned that someone was fraudulently collecting his family’s grants, says his five South African-born children aged between 10 months and 10 years were approved to receive the grants, but have not received anything for months.

    Meanwhile, SASSA spokesperson, Kgomoco Diseko, points out that, “The money was not collected until June and it lapsed. If a grant is not collected for three months, it lapses.”

    To read the article titled, “DRC family’s grant card rejected,” click here.

    The Citizen
  • Angolan Refugees Return From DRC

    The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says that tens of thousands of Angolans living in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are set to return home, for some after more than 50 years in exile.

    UNHCR spokesperson, Celine Schmitt, points out that a first group of 500 people left Kinshasa by train and are expected to stay overnight at a transit centre in Kimpese in the southeast on the way to the border.

    Schmitt, who says the rest of the journey will take place by bus, adds that about 48 000 Angolans are estimated to live in the DRC, and some 18 000 of them wish to remain.

    To read the article titled, “Angolan refugees return from DRC,” click here.

    News 24
  • Adonis Musati Project: Coordinator - Peer Support Group Programme

    The Adonis Musati Project (AMP)
    Please note: this opportunity closing date has passed and may not be available any more.
    Opportunity closing date: 
    Monday, September 1, 2014
    Opportunity type: 
    The Adonis Musati Project (AMP) was named after a young Zimbabwean man who died of starvation on the streets of Cape Town while queuing to get his asylum papers. The project strives to empower marginalised refugees and migrants in South Africa through fostering sustainable support networks and encouraging personal development that achieves lasting change.

    The AMP Peer Support Group Programme offers psychological support and practical resources to disenfranchised refugee and asylum seeker communities within Cape Town and builds sustainable support systems within the community. Through this intervention the Project empowers individuals and equip them with the skills needed to transition to self-reliance and to lead positive, meaningful lives.

    AMP seeks to appoint a Coordinator for its Peer Support Group Programme, based in Cape Town.

    The candidate will oversee and manage AMP's Peer Support Group Programme and will report to the Director. Working hours: Currently a 25 hour per week role but could increase in future.

    • Oversee and coordinate Peer Support Group Programme (PSGP);
    • Management of peer counsellors;
    • Engagement with other npo’s and stakeholders;
    • Training;
    • Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E)
    • Administration of PSGP;
    • AMP team participation and representation.
    • Degree in psychology or other social sciences;
    • Minimum of two years in similar position;
    • Experience of group facilitation;
    • Experience of working with refugees and migrants will be prefered;
    • Excellent interpersonal and conflict resolution skills
    • Written and verbal communication skills
    • Flexible and team player
    • Comfort working closely with higher management
    • Administrative and computer skills
    • Balanced and self-sufficient;
    • Fluency in English with at least one other African language will be preferred;
    • Must have driver’s licence and own car;
    • Must be willing to travel to different local areas and communities.
    • Can-do attitude;
    • Open-minded and non-judgmental attitude and approach towards people of varying cultures and backgrounds;
    • Passion for people and strong care for plight of refugees and migrants;
    • Patience.
    The candidate must be legally able to work in South Africa.

    For full job description, contact Miranda du Toit, e-mail:

    To apply, submit a CV (once you have read the full job profile) and motivation letter clearly stating why you are suitable for the role to

    Only short listed candidates will be contacted. If you do not hear from AMP by Wednesday 10 September 2014, consider your application to be unsuccessful.

    AMP reserves the right not to fill the role if no suitable candidates are found within a round of applications.

    For more about the Adonis Musati Project, refer to

    For other vacancies in the NGO sector, refer to


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  • Scalabrini Centre: Career Counsellor

    Scalabrini Centre
    Please note: this opportunity closing date has passed and may not be available any more.
    Opportunity closing date: 
    Monday, July 28, 2014
    Opportunity type: 
    The Scalabrini Centre offers development and welfare programmes to the migrant and local communities of Cape Town. In providing assistance, the organisation uses a holistic approach that considers all basic needs and human rights.

    The Scalabrini Centre seeks to appoint a Career Counsellor, based in Cape Town.

    The Counsellor should be a South African citizen with extensive knowledge of the labour market in the Western Cape.

    As part of the Employment Access Programme team, the Career Counselor will provide clients with the self-insight, guidance, support and skills needed to assist them in determining work options and equipping them to make successful job applications through proactive approaches to work searches.

    • Evaluate clients educational and work backgrounds in order to help them determine what they need to do next to achieve their employment goals through application of suitable psychometric assessments;
    • Developing action plans per client and developing these into counseling contracts;
    • Assist clients in the job search process by advising on job search resources;
    • Assist in evaluating clients for possible skills training sponsorship with other organisations;
    • Assist clients to overcome their concerns regarding employment searches and advising clients on options and choices through consultation;
    • Work to agreed targets in relation to client contact frequency, maintaining appropriate records in line with professional standards and ensuring compliance with all M&E requirements of the programme;
    • Content management and development of the Life Skills manuals for Life Skills and Digital Literacy Workshop;
    • Facilitation, support and coordination of the Life Skills and Digital Literacy Workshop;
    • Facilitate jobs search skills training and practical workshops - interviewing, CV writing, and networking;
    • Referring clients to other sources of help, as appropriate, and liaising, as necessary, with other agencies and individuals to help clients progress in their job search.
    • Ability to establish a relationship of trust and respect with clients and encouraging clients to talk about issues they feel they cannot normally share with others;
    • Able to accept without bias the issues raised by clients and actively listening to client concerns and empathising with their position;
    • Familiarity with employment rights and duties and able to transfer this knowledge to clients;
    • Registration with the HPCSA.
    To apply, submit a CV with references and a motivational letter to

    Please quote the source of this advertisement in your application - NGO Pulse Portal.

    Only shortlisted applicants will be contacted.

    For more about Scalabrini Centre, refer to

    For other vacancies in the NGO sector, refer to


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  • Abuse of Asylum System in South Africa

    The well-intended objects sought to be achieved by the South African government via the Refugees Act 130 of 1998 (the Act) are not immune from abuse by fraudsters masquerading as asylum seekers. The Act articulates government’s objects as being to: give effect within the Republic of South Africa to the relevant international legal instruments, principles and standards relating to refugees; provide for the reception into South Africa of asylum seekers; regulate applications for and recognition of refugee status; provide for the rights and obligations flowing from such status; and provide for matters connected therewith. 

    Although equally well-intended, the presumption per paragraph 39 of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Handbook and Guidelines on Procedures and Criteria for Determining Refugee Status (UNHCR Handbook) that an asylum claim is well-founded until it is rebutted by the relevant Refugee Status Determination Officer (RSDO) has its own difficulties. And so is the inviolable international proscription endorsed in Section 2 of the Act that a host country cannot refuse entry into the Republic; expel; extradite or return an asylum-seeker to home country before the asylum claim is fully determined by the relevant administrative and or judicial bodies.

    Section 4 of the Act allows RSDOs to deny refugee status to a person in respect of who there is reason to believe that s/he has committed a crime against peace, a war crime or a crime against humanity, as defined in any international legal instrument dealing with any such crimes; or has committed a crime which is not of a political nature and which, if committed in the Republic, would be punishable by imprisonment; or has been guilty of acts contrary to the objects and principles of the United Nations Organisation or the Organisation of African Unity; or enjoys the protection of any other country in which he or she has taken residence. However, a conclusion by the RSDO that a person is ineligible for refugee status on any of the grounds under Section 4 of the Act only follows after state resources and time have already been exhausted. Nonetheless and no doubt, the status determination process remains a necessary endurance.

    The asylum application process

    The asylum application process is described under sections 21, 22; 24, 25 and 26 of the Act, read together with section 6 of the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act 2 of 2000. As the custodian and administrator of the Refugees Act [including the Immigration Act 12 of 2002], the Department of Home Affairs has established and entrusted the Refugee Reception Offices to deal with asylum applications. Within Refugee Reception Offices are designated Refugee Reception Officers (RROs) and RSDOs (Section 8(2)).  The role of RROs is generally described under Section 21 to receive and process asylum applications. Under this process an asylum seeker completes an Eligibility Determination Form for Asylum Seekers and in it must state, inter alia, ‘information on country of origin; the reasons why he seeks asylum; information on previous criminal convictions, the date and nature of the crime(s) committed; whether he is already recognised by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees; and finally, a declaration that the information provided in the Form “is to the best of my knowledge true and correct.”

    Once the Eligibility Determination Form is completed, the RRO will review its contents, ensure that it is properly completed; may conduct such enquiry as s/he deems necessary in order to verify the information furnished in the application; make preliminary comments and then submit the application to the RSDO who will in turn deal with it in terms of Section 24 of the Act. Section 22(1) provides that the RRO must, pending the decision of the RSDO on the application, issue to the applicant an asylum seeker permit in the prescribed form allowing the bearer to sojourn in the Republic temporarily, “subject to any conditions, determined by the Standing Committee, which are not in conflict with the Constitution or international law and are endorsed by the [RRO] on the permit.”

    Section 21(4) proscribes the institution or continuation of proceedings against a person in respect of unlawful entry into or presence within the Republic “if – 
    1.    such person has applied for asylum .... until a decision has been made on the application and, where applicable, such person has had an opportunity to exhaust his or her rights of review or appeal in terms of Chapter 4; or
    2.    such person has been granted asylum.”
    Section 24 provides that the RSDO may upon receipt of the asylum application from the RRO and in order to make a decision, request any information or clarification s/he deems necessary from the applicant or the RRO. The RSDO may also, where necessary, consult with and invite a UNHCR representative to furnish information on specified matters; and may with the permission of the asylum seeker, provide the UNHCR representative with such information as may be requested. At the conclusion of the interview the RSDO must  grant asylum; or reject the application as manifestly unfounded, abusive or fraudulent; or reject the application as unfounded; or refer any question of law to the Standing Committee for Refugee Affairs (SCRA)(s.24(3)).

    Section 24(4) requires that the RSDO furnish written reasons to the applicant within five working days after the date of the rejection or referral, if an application is rejected as manifestly unfounded. The RSDO must also submit the record of proceedings and a copy of the reasons of the decision to SCRA within 10 days after the date of rejection or referral. Through its supervisory and monitoring role over the work of RROs and RSDOs, SCRA has a duty to review a decision submitted to it by the RSDO. It may invite the UNHCR representative to make oral or written representations; request the attendance of any person who is in a position to provide it with information relevant to the matter; on its own accord make such further enquiry and investigation into the matter as it may deem appropriate; and request the applicant to appear before it to provide such other information as it may deem necessary (s.25). SCRA may confirm or set aside the RSDO decision; and must decide on a question of law referred to it by the RSDO; and refer the application back to the RSDO with the necessary directives in line with which the RSDO must decide it. It also has a duty to inform the RSDO of its decision in a prescribed manner and within the prescribed time. 

    Examples of Potentially Fraudulent or Abusive Asylum Claims

    Fraudulent or abusive nature of the asylum claims is almost obvious to the RROs and RSDOs for all the officials can immediately notice is a story or information that is far divorced from the definition of refugee status under Section 3 of the Act. Less complicated examples of fraudulent applications include when an asylum seeker simply states that the reason they left their country to South Africa was to improve their economic situation. It is fraudulent because the applicant joined and clogged a wrong queue of otherwise legitimate asylum seekers when the correct queue was within reach in the country of origin, where s/he ought to have applied for a passport, and then a visa via a South African embassy there before embarking on an illegal trip to the country. That process is regulated under the Immigration Act 13 of 2002. Another example is of someone who came to South Africa on a valid passport and visa, but who for reasons unconnected for fear of persecution, is unwilling to return to their home country when the visa expires, but decides to apply for asylum purely to remain in the country to undermine the objects of the Refugees Act and circumvent the objects of the Immigration Act (that being namely, to provide for the regulation of admission of persons to, their residence in, and their departure from the Republic; and for matters connected therewith).

    In his book ‘Of Myths and Migration: Illegal Immigration into South Africa (2003 Edition, page 110)’ author, Hussain Solomon, shares what I consider to be a perfect example of the fraudulent or abusive nature of some asylum applications, and equally, of the unintended effects of the presumption that an asylum seeker is considered to have a legitimate asylum claim until proven otherwise by the RSDO. Solomon’s example is as follows:

    “Soon after Mobutu Sese Seko and the capture of Kinshasa by Kabila’s forces, four generals loyal to Mobutu arrived in South Africa claiming refugee status. While their appeal for refugee status was still being processed, Aziz Pahad, South Africa’s Deputy Foreign Minister, announced that Kabila’s government wanted these generals back to stand trial for corruption. South Africa’s human rights obligations under the 1951 UN Convention, however, prevented Pretoria from handing them to Kinshasa until their claim to refugee status was proven to be unfounded.

    While the tedious process of the verification of refugee status continued, the generals set up the National Front for the Liberation of Congo from the sale of R32 million worth of cobalt which they had had in their possession shortly before fleeing Kinshasa. The group aimed to hire mercenaries and to launch military attacks from the Southern Congo, Zambia and Angola in order to get these to secede from the rest of the DRC [Democratic Republic of Congo] by military means. The planning for this intervention and the hiring of mercenaries were done while the generals were in South Africa awaiting verification of their refugee status claim.

    The end-result was that the generals were denied refugee status, but before they could be repatriated to Kinshasa, they had left the country.”
    The allegations of criminal activities made against Donovan Krejcir on page 21 of Zondo J’s judgment in Mail and Guardian Media Ltd and Others v Chipu N.O. and Others (CCT 136/12) [2013] ZACC 32, paragraph 36, if found to be true, would render his application for asylum in the country fraudulent and an abuse of South Africa’s asylum system. The same would apply to former Rwandan general, Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa’s asylum claim if the Court in the ongoing matter of CoRMSA [Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa] v the President of the Republic of South Africa & Others, Case No. 30123/11 (Gauteng Provincial Division of the High Court), agrees with CoRMSA’s argument over his unfitness to be accorded refugee status in the country.

    Lukombo v Minister of Home Affairs and Others (2013/13552) [2013 ZAGPJHC 142 (13 June 2013]), offers another practical example of fraudulent asylum applications. In this case the court found that Lukombo had applied for asylum three times, each time using different names as Samuel Papi (his father’s name); Ardy Mukula; and finally as Mankula Lukombo. On the first two occasions, he was successively issued with new asylum seeker permits, but was thwarted on the third attempt and warned that he had committed fraud. He had immediately fled and evaded arrest until he was finally captured and sent to Lindela for deportation. The court dismissed an urgent application for his release with an adverse costs order.

    I am tempted to agree with CoRMSA in arguing (in its written submissions to the Court in the abovementioned case) that:

    Preserving refugee status for only those who are in genuine need of protection is integral to maintaining the credibility of the refugee protection regime, if not its sustainability.”

    The converse would in my view otherwise likely fortify the lay public’s perception and others’ argument that South Africa is a banana republic, a safe haven for even fugitives from justice or fraudsters. Excluding such persons from refugee status, irrespective of their social or other standing would go a long way in preserving the sanctity of refugee protection in the country. If Hussain Solomon’s example; and that of CoRMSA and Mail and Guardian Media Ltd cases above are anything to go by, South Africa could as well be hosting warlords; perpetrators of human rights violations; or assassination squads masquerading as victims of persecution.  
    Word count: 2000 

    Lesirela Letsebe (BIuris LLB (University of Limpopo), LLM (University of Pretoria) is an attorney at Lawyers for Human Rights in Johannesburg.
    Lesirela Letsebe
  • Refugee Aid Organisation: Social Worker

    Refugee Aid Organisation (RAO)
    Please note: this opportunity closing date has passed and may not be available any more.
    Opportunity closing date: 
    Friday, June 27, 2014
    Opportunity type: 
    The Refugee Aid Organisation (RAO) is an organisation that assists refugees and asylum seekers with social assistance. RAO is dedicated in integrating their clients into society and to promote the awareness on the plight of refugees and asylum seekers using a human rights approach.

    RAO seeks to appoint a Social Worker, based in Pretoria.

    • Statutory Interventions;
    • Home visits and assessments;
    • Counsel and group work;
    • Develop training sessions for children and adults;
    • Fundraising.
    • Degree in Social Work;
    • Registration with SACSSP;
    • Knowledge of Refugee Law is essential;
    • Computer skills with Microsoft Office and data capturing.
    To apply, submit a CV and registration with SACSSP to

    Please quote the source of this advertisement in your application - NGO Pulse Portal.

    Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

    For more about the Refugee Aid Organisation, refer to

    For other vacancies in the NGO sector, refer to


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  • Scalabrini Centre: Advocacy Officer - Refugee Rights

    Scalabrini Centre
    Please note: this opportunity closing date has passed and may not be available any more.
    Opportunity closing date: 
    Friday, May 16, 2014
    Opportunity type: 
    Perceiving migration as an opportunity, Scalabrini Centre is committed to alleviating poverty and promoting development in the Western Cape while fostering integration between migrants, refugees and South Africans. In providing our assistance we advocate respect for human rights and use a holistic approach that considers all basic needs.

    Scalabrini Centre seeks to appoint an Advocacy Officer, based in Cape Town.

    South Africa’s approach to refugees is one of urban integration. In line herewith, the Scalabrini Centre offers various services to promote integration of migrants, especially asylum seekers and refugees within the South African community.

    The objective of the advocacy programme is to raise awareness around the rights of asylum seekers and refugees in South Africa, to advocate for equal treatment and respect of basic rights and to assist individuals throughout the various steps within the asylum procedure. 
    • Design and implementation of advocacy strategy around migrants’ rights. The focus is on asylum seekers, refugees and migrant children;
    • Promoting asylum seekers’ and refugees’ rights to fair procedure in terms of refugee law in South Africa;
    • Raising awareness around xenophobia and participation with research on hate crimes;
    • Provision of paralegal/legal advice pertaining to asylum procedure and the protection of refugees in South Africa;
    • Assistance to asylum seekers and refugees to exercise basic human rights and access public services within the Western Cape;
    • Communication and establishment of links with partner institutions and government departments;
    •  Aspects of social welfare service, research, record keeping and report writing.
    • Postgraduate degree in relevant area (i.e. refugee law, development studies, migration studies, human rights), previous experience in working in civil society and advocacy.
    To apply, submit a CV, contact details of referees and motivation letter to

    Please quote the source of this advertisement in your application - NGO Pulse Portal.

    Only shortlisted applicants will be contacted.

    For more about Scalabrini Centre, refer to

    For other vacancies in the NGO sector, refer to


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  • Millions of Refugees Displaced Globally

    The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says the Syrian civil war contributed to push the numbers of refugees and those displaced by conflict within their own nation to an 18-year high of 45.2 million worldwide by the end of 2012.

    The UN refugee agency says those are the highest numbers since 1994, when people fled genocide in Rwanda and bloodshed in former Yugoslavia.

    It says by the end of last year, the world had 15.4 million refugees, 937 000 asylum seekers and 28.8 million people who had been forced to flee within the borders of their own countries.

    To read the article titled, “45 million refugees displaced globally: UN,” click here.

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