“As we celebrate World Refugee Day, let’s reflect on the state of refugees in South Africa. Refugees face a number of hardships on a daily basis, stemming from poor policy implementation, xenophobia, limited access to services, corruption, lack of awareness of their rights, and prolonged administrative processes in accessing their refugee status, which deny them access to socio-economic rights as enshrined in the constitution,” says our fellow Bertha Chiguvare.

René Sparks

According to the UNHCR’s South Africa Multi-Country Office, South Africa hosts 250,250 refugees and asylum-seekers. Countries of origin for refugees and asylum-seekers include Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, South Sudan, Somalia, and Zimbabwe. The recent Global Trend Report shows that nearly 120 million people worldwide are displaced due to persecution, conflict, violence, human rights violations, and events seriously disturbing public order. Refugee Day is a call to action and a reminder to continuously advocate and unite for refugees’ rights and integration.

Another Tekano fellow, Tendai Chisirimunhu, who lives as a refugee in South Africa, shares the same sentiments as Bertha, adding that “Refugees face numerous challenges across the globe and in South Africa. One of the challenges we face is obtaining what we call ‘papers’, a legal document to be in the country, especially among children and young refugees”. 

She is currently working as a project monitor on the refugee documentary called ‘Seekers’. The goal of this documentary is to build a movement of solidarity and raise funds to cover education and legal fees for young African refugees.

“To the [South African] government, stakeholders, and civil society, let’s have a coordinated response in promoting the peaceful integration of refugees in most communities,” adds Bertha.