JUSTICE AND PEACE MINISTRY- MARYVALE PARISH
SOME RESOURCES FOR REFUGEES & ASYLUM SEEKERS HOW TO ACCESS SOCIAL ASSISTANCE Introduction: Under South African law, refugees and asylum-seekers are entitled to have freedom of movement, right to work and the right to access social services. Unlike other African countries, there are no refugee camps in South Africa. This implies that refugees and asylum-seekers need to work to support themselves and their families. For many refugees and asylum-seekers, arriving in a foreign country not knowing the language, the culture with nowhere to turn is a very daunting experience. For instance, what should you do for accommodation? Where will your children go to school? How would you know where to report at the offices of Homes Affairs? The Justice and Peace Committee has conducted a survey in our Parish and we have identified some challenges refugees and asylum-seekers are facing. We managed to refer to them to refugee organizations that could help in their needs. In a nutshell, what follows are the most common challenges for refugees and asylum seekers as well organizations that
provide social assistance to them in Gauteng. Accommodation When you arrive in the country, it is your responsibility to find our own accommodation through friends and community members who have already been in the country for some time. Most rentals and accommodation are paid for at the beginning of the month. You will also be expected to pay upfront a deposit of one month’s rent, before you move into the accommodation. There are organizations that may facilitate access to shelter and contribute towards accommodation for vulnerable people. This is type of assistance is however limited. Medical Assistance The South African Health care system is based on both private and government managed service facilities. Private care is very expensive. Health care provided by the government is generally at a minimal cost. Refugees and asylum-seekers are advised to seek Government provided health care. Under the constitution of South Africa a person cannot be denied emergency treatment. Education Every child has the right to education. It is important that all parents and guardians take the registration of their children seriously. It is your responsibility to find a school to register your child. Some schools may refuse to register your child because:
- They may be full.
- They may be unfamiliar with your permit and your status as a refugee.
- Or they may feel that South African children must be registered first
- In this case you will need immediately to ask for the following :
- A written reason for the rejection of your child’s admission.
- A written referral letter to another nearby school.
You may also : Approach Refugees and Organizations in your area for further assistance. If you are unable to pay school the school fees, you may apply for exemption from paying school fees. Exemption from paying school fees, however, does not exclude or excuse the parent from assisting the school in other ways. You may be able to offer your services, for example, helping to paint the school in exchange for not paying school fees. Refugees and asylum-seekers are advised to be as helpful as possible so that their children’s presence at the school is not seen to be the responsibility of other parents. University Scholarship Tertiary education in South Africa is expensive. This is particularly so for refugees. The only form of assistance for tertiary education that UNHCR (United Nations High Commission For Refugees) provides is the DAFI Scholarship programme which is funded by the Federal Government of Germany. Because of its financial limits only a small number of candidates can be admitted to the programme. Refugees and Asylum- seekers may apply at UNHCR in Pretoria. Refugees and asylum-seekers in Gauteng may seek assistance from the following organizations: Refugee Aid Organization (RAO)- Johanesburg 84 President Street Markade Mall(Cnr Kruis) Ground Floor Johannesburg Central Cell: 072 785 3959 Email: [email protected] Refugee Aid Organization(RAO)- Pretoria IDASA Building 357 Visagie Street Pretoria Central 0002 Tel. 012 320 6452 Fax: 012 320 2949 Email: [email protected] The Refugee Aid Organization assists new comers, unaccompanied minors, victims of xenophobia, vulnerable people, emergency cases, people living with disabilities and those with medical, educational and social needs. Emergency assistance can include assistance with shelter and food vouchers, depending on the outcome of the individual assessment. Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS)- Johannesburg 5th Floor Royal Place 85 Eloff Street (Cnr Kerk) Tel. 011333 0980 Fax: 011 333 0119 Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS)- Pretoria 485 Vermeulen Street (near cnr Beatrix) Tel. 012 323 3116 Fax: 012 323 3887 In all categories of assistance JRS gives priority to the following: Refugees and asylum seekers who have been in South Africa for less than two years; and Refugees and asylum seekers from vulnerable groups such single headed households. Services Provided include, Education assistance, Health Care, Vocational Skills Training, English Language Training and Small Business Plans. Sediba Hope Centre(Pretoria) 173 Bosman Street, Cnr Vermeulen Street Pretoria Tel: 012 323 6688 Fax: 012 323 6183 Sediba Hope Centre is a wellness centre which offers medical and psycho-social assistance to anyone in need, with focus on persons living with HIV. It aims to provide medical treatment and additional assistance to all who access its services. Refugees and asylum seekers are particularly catered for. UNISA (University of South Africa) The Unit of Social Behavior Studies in HIV/AIDS and Health (USBAH) Vudec Building, Cnr Vand der Walt & Skinner Street Pretoria Tel. 012 429 6975/4065 Email: [email protected] The Unit for Social Behavior Studies in HIV/AIDS and Health at UNISA provides HIV and AIDS prevention & health promotion services amongst refugees and asylum-seekers in Pretoria. Sonke Gender Justice Network- Johannesburg HIV/AIDS, Gender Equality, Human Rights Johannesburg Office 16 th Floor, Sable Centre, 41 De korte Street Braamfontein Tel. 011 339 3589 Fax: 011 339 6503 www.genderjustice.org.za Sonke Gender Justice Network works with refugees, asylum –seekers and migrants. It focus on addressing the specific gender and HIV vulnerabilities of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants by challenging xenophobia and the frequent violations of rights faced by refugees and migrants. Refugees and asylum-seekers can seek legal assistance at Wits Law Clinic, Pro-bono organization and Lawyers For Human rights either in Johannesburg or Pretoria. Sources: A service handbook by United Nations High Commission for Refugees in South Africa.