Home Affairs, UN Refugee Agency project seeks to clear SA asylum seeker backlog

It aims to eliminate the backlog in South Africa’s asylum system by 2024.

Department of Home Affairs. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Asylum applications could be streamlined with the launch of the Asylum Backlog Project.

It's a joint endeavour by the Home Affairs Department and the UN Refugee Agency.

It aims to eliminate the backlog in South Africa’s asylum system by 2024.

Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said that the Asylum Backlog Project would include hiring more staff to help deal with a backlog.

"We provided a sum of U$9.6 million for this project over a period of four years. They'll also provide technical assistance in the form of training. The money will be used to employ 36 extra lawyers because at the moment there are only three."

Motsoaledi said that when the Refugee Act came into effect in 1998, the country had 11,000 asylum applications and in 2006 it reached 53,000.

"In 2008, it increased fourfold - 207,000 people just arrived and said they're looking for asylum. Now while the system was still shocked, the following year another 223,000 followed, which means there's still 400,000 people within a period of two years. Since that time, the system has never recovered."

He said that they'd still not been able to clear that backlog.

"The number of people now who must be cleared via this backlogs is 163,000 applications."

Download the Eyewitness News app to your iOS or Android device.