National Refugee Baseline Survey: Final Report

The number of refugees and asylum seekers entering South Africa, particularly from other parts of Africa, has risen steadily since the advent of democracy in 1994 and the proliferation of conflict in other parts of the continent. Apart from anecdotal information, we know very little about these communities, their experiences in South Africa, or their priority needs and concerns.

In order to begin the process of acquiring reliable empirical baseline data, the UNHCR commissioned the Community Agency for Social Enquiry (C A S E) in December 2001 to undertake a baseline survey of asylum seekers and refugees in South Africa. This study focused on asylum seekers and refugees from Africa, as they constitute the majority of the refugee population¹. As originally proposed, the study intended to collect data from the five cities where Refugee Reception Offices are located (Pretoria, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban) through the use of a survey with asylum seekers and refugees, focus groups with asylum seekers and refugees, and in-depth interviews with Heads of the Refugee Reception Offices as well as the main service providers in each city. However, due to limited funding, Phase I of this study, for which data collection was carried out between August 2002 and April 2003, focused on Pretoria and Johannesburg only. While the survey component was carried out with the financial assistance of the UNHCR from August to December 2002, the qualitative component was conducted between February and March 2003, with the financial assistance of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

In June 2003, JICA, jointly with the UNHCR, provided additional funds to enable the continuation of the study. The additional funding allowed C A S E to extend the data collection, in July-August 2003, to both Cape Town and Durban as well as supplement data collected in Johannesburg and Pretoria into what we have termed Phase II of the study. While originally the aim was to extend Phase II of the study, with both its quantitative and qualitative components, to the remaining three sites of study (Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth), limited funding did not allow for Port Elizabeth to be included as a site.

In June 2003, JICA, jointly with the UNHCR, provided additional funds to enable the continuation of the study. The additional funding allowed C A S E to extend the data collection, in July-August 2003, to both Cape Town and Durban as well as supplement data collected in Johannesburg and Pretoria into what we have termed Phase II of the study. While originally the aim was to extend Phase II of the study, with both its quantitative and qualitative components, to the remaining three sites of study (Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth), limited funding did not allow for Port Elizabeth to be included as a site.

This study has the following main objectives:

  1. To provide reliable empirical data on asylum seekers and refugees to allow national government departments to pursue the development of an integrated and coherent policy on service provision to asylum seekers and refugees which would give guidance to provincial and local government departments in the implementation of assistance interventions for asylum seekers and refugees;
  2. To provide reliable empirical data on asylum seekers and refugees to NGOs, service providers and other organisations working in the field, such as JICA, UNHCR, NCRA and SAHRC, to help them identify priority needs and concerns, thereby helping to inform their activities, identify broad priority interventions and programmes, and monitor existing government practices;
  3. To assess more accurately where education and awareness-raising interventions are required; and
  4. To increase the knowledge of human rights and responsibilities of asylum seekers and refugees, and improve knowledge of and access to remedial mechanisms and facilitation services.

Continue reading below or download the full “National Refugee Baseline Survey: Final Report” resource.

Author(s): Florencia Belvedere | Ezekiel Mogodi | Zaid Kimmie

Published/Prepared by: CASE

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