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Seeking refuge in South Africa: Challenges facing a group of Congolese and Burundian refugees


  • Pragna Rugunanan
  • Ria Smit


The existence of a relatively large refugee population in South Africa has stimulated important research in the field of forced migration studies. This paper is based on the findings of a qualitative study among refugees living in Sunnyside, Pretoria, who originally came from central African countries. The study sheds light on the refugees' perceptions and experiences with regard to, inter alia, their daily lives and survival strategies. The findings from focus groups and in-depth structured interviews with a sample of 10 women from the focus group suggest that the refugees are constantly worried about their daily survival. Issues of subsistence, shelter, protection against crime and eviction, and the ongoing threat of xenophobia, weigh heavily on their minds. Recommendations include a more integrative approach by all stakeholders to ensure that refugees and asylum seekers are managed within a human rights based framework.

Suggested Citation

  • Pragna Rugunanan & Ria Smit, 2011. "Seeking refuge in South Africa: Challenges facing a group of Congolese and Burundian refugees," Development Southern Africa, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 28(5), pages 705-718, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:deveza:v:28:y:2011:i:5:p:705-718 DOI: 10.1080/0376835X.2011.623919

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    References listed on IDEAS

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