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This report examines South Africa’s refugee recognition regime which is typified by an individualised refugee status determination (RSD) system that sets it quite apart from other major refugee-hosting countries in Africa, whose major mode of refugee recognition is group-based. The report focuses on a twenty-year period (1998-2018) highlighting the various areas of contestation within the refugee protection space and South Africa’s adherence to its obligations, under both domestic and international law. Although extensive work has been carried out regarding the quality of RSD process in South Africa, gaps are still evident with respect to the refugee recognition institutions and their relational dynamics and how this impacts the refugee recognition regime and refugee protection generally. The report is based on desk research and original fieldwork in South Africa among various elites working in the refugee protection area as well as refugees and asylum seekers in South Africa drawn from three nationalities: Somalis, Ethiopians and Congolese from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

More information Original publication




Working paper


RefMig Project

Publication Date



RefMig Working Paper No. 2/2023