On Friday, November 18, 2022, Islamic Relief South Africa, in partnership with the UNHCR (United Nations High Court for Refugees), officially launched phase II of the project for Assistance, Protection, Education, and Self-Reliance for Refugees and Asylum Seekers (APESRA). In attendance were the rights holders, refugee community leaders, representatives, and CEO of Islamic Relief Canada; representatives from the UNHCR and Department of Home Affairs; officials from the South African Police Service; and key stakeholders, including Scalabrini, MRASA, and Africa Unite, among others. The proposed support will run over 18 months and holistically improve the livelihoods of 199 refugees and asylum seekers in Cape Town, South Africa. The assistance offered by Islamic Relief is free and based on need, regardless of race, gender, religion, sexuality, or nationality.
South Africa hosts the largest number of refugees and asylum seekers on the African continent due to its middle-income status, stable democratic institutions, and comparatively industrialized economy. According to official estimates from the UNHCR, South Africa is home to about 250+ thousand refugees and asylum seekers. However, this number is underestimated due to the many unauthorized refugees and asylum seekers currently in South Africa. These statistics increase our motivation to assist refugees and asylum seekers with their holistic integration into local communities.
The South African authorities have shown a willingness to assist refugees and asylum seekers who have settled in South Africa. The UNHCR and its partners have strived to implement activities and programs to create inclusivity for foreign nationals. The project comes within this context and aims to reinforce the urban settlement of refugees and asylum seekers in South Africa. Islamic Relief South Africa will pursue and adapt some aspects of the project activities to comply with UNHCR’s objectives for 2017–2021. The fundamental focus is to empower refugees and asylum seekers, who are often left in a state of dependence. We recognize them as agents with the potential to determine and build their futures and eventually contribute to the communities in which they reside.
Social justice is one of Islamic Relief’s core values. We will continue to be in the service of those who are marginalized and have no voice.
The main objective of this project is to promote peaceful coexistence among the local community, promote self-reliance and improved livelihoods, ensure optimal access to quality education, provide psychosocial support, and promote food security among refugees and asylum seekers in South Africa.
We pray that this initiative between Islamic Relief South Africa and the UNHCR brings relief and positive change in the lives of the right-holders, their families, and the communities in which they reside.