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Refugees & asylum seekers in SA don’t enjoy socio-economic rights – study

According to the study, this group does not enjoy socio-economic rights like healthcare and adequate housing as enshrined in the country’s legislation.

FILE: The entrance to the Maitland Refugee Reception Centre in Cape Town. Picture: EWN

CAPE TOWN - A Stellenbosch University study has found refugees and asylum seekers in South Africa are worse off than in other countries, like France and the United States.

According to the study, this group does not enjoy socio-economic rights, like healthcare and adequate housing, as enshrined in the country’s legislation.

Several policies were looked at including the Refugees Act, Social Assistance Act, and National Health Act.

Doctor Callixte Kavuro, who did his doctoral study on refugees and asylum seekers in South Africa, said government tended to treat these people like ordinary immigrants.

“Immigration law by its very nature excludes non-citizens from having socio-economic rights, whereas the Refugees Act includes refugees and asylum-seekers in socio-economic aspects,” Kavuro said.

However, Kavuro said the Refugees Act was unclear about which socio-economic rights refugees and asylum-seekers should enjoy.

He also found that both France and the United States had adopted measures to see refugee rights implemented.

But he said in South Africa, “no measures have been taken to provide guidance on how refugees or asylum seekers can be integrated in existing social welfare schemes.”