Operational information on the Southern Africa subregion is presented below. A summary of this can also be downloaded in PDF format. This subregion covers the following countries:
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Budgets and Expenditure in Subregion Southern Africa
People of Concern - 2018[["Refugees",210956],["Asylum-seekers",274827],["Returned IDPs",8845],["Returned refugees",8972],["Others of concern",24043]]
Response in 2018In 2018, the Southern Africa sub-region was hosting some 540,000 people of concern to UNHCR, including some 211,000 refugees and over 273,000 asylum-seekers mainly from the Central Africa and Great Lakes, East and Horn of Africa and SADC countries. There was an overall increase of over 8% in the population of concern in the sub-region since January 2018, particularly due to the flow of asylum-seekers from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), not only to neighbouring Angola and Zambia, but also to the wider Southern Africa region. By the end of 2018, the Southern Africa sub-region was hosting over 180,000 Congolese refugees and asylum-seekers.
As part of mixed migration, asylum-seekers were crossing several country borders before formally seeking asylum. The increasing number of asylum-seekers was constraining the capacity of local authorities to provide protection and assistance to new arrivals. Many people experienced difficulties in accessing asylum procedures or obtaining documentation. Some were detained for lengthy periods of time. Women and unaccompanied minors were particularly vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, including SGBV.
Although several countries in the sub-region experienced economic growth, many were still struggling with economic inequalities, poverty, seasonal floods, drought, food shortages, poor social protection, xenophobia and a high HIV/AIDS prevalence. While nearly all countries are parties to international and regional refugee instruments, most still have reservations regarding freedom of movement and access to employment, keeping refugees mainly in camps and settlements. As long these reservations will continue to prevail, they will constitute major barriers to the effective implementation of the Global Compact on Refugees Despite some successful livelihood interventions, most refugees continued to depend on assistance and services provided by UNHCR and partners.
In 2018, Zambia was already applying Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) while Angola, Malawi and Mozambique expressed their support and cooperation for applying CRRF.
The reconciliation between the Government of Mozambique and the opposition (RENAMO) triggered a spontaneous return of Mozambican asylum-seekers from Luwani refugee camp in Malawi. Some 7,500 Mozambican asylum-seekers remained in Zimbabwe at the end of 2018.
A working group of SADC member states drafted a ministerial declaration and action plan on the eradication of statelessness, which is expected to be submitted to Governments for approval in 2019.
Operations in southern Africa in 2018
Namibia hosted nearly 4,000 refugees and asylum-seekers, mostly from the DRC, in Osire refugee settlement and in urban areas.. UNHCR continued to provide shelter, food and core relief items through its local implementing partner. UNHCR continued to support the authorities and partners in delivery of protection and assistance.
Botswana hosted some 2,300 refugees and asylum-seekers, largely from Namibia and Zimbabwe. UNHCR and its partners continued to support the Government in the management of refugees and asylum-seekers in Dukwi refugee camp.
The Kingdom of eSwatini hosted approximately 1,600 refugees and asylum-seekers in the urban areas and some accommodated at the Malindza reception centre. UNHCR provided protection and assistance mainly through a local partner. The majority of people of concern are from the DRC.
Lesotho hosted 95 people of concern, mostly from the DRC. UNHCR continued capacity building to authorities on the refugee status determination (RSD) and management of refugees and asylum-seekers. In a commendable step, Lesotho also pledged to provide resettlement for refugees from other asylum countries in Africa.
The Indian Ocean Island States hosted very few known people of concern to UNHCR. UNHCR continued to monitor the situation, mainly through partners and periodic missions. UNHCR was encouraging Comoros and Mauritius to accede to international refugee and statelessness instruments as well as to establish referral mechanism to coordinate the management of asylum-seekers, refugees and stateless persons. Seychelles has requested UNHCR’s technical support in drafting a national legal asylum framework that could serve as a model for other Indian Ocean Island States. Seychelles has also shown interest in acceding to statelessness conventions.
Madagascar hosted 150 refugees and asylum-seekers. UNHCR continued to support Madagascar in the management of refugees and asylum-seekers, largely from the DRC, through the provision of social and legal assistance as well as technical assistance in nationality issues by partners.
The Southern Africa sub-region hosts more than half a million refugees and asylum-seekers mainly from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Somalia, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Eritrea and Zimbabwe. Other nationalities seeking asylum include Nigeria, Bangladesh and even China.
There has been an increase in people of concern in the region since January 2017, particularly due to the influx of over 33,000 asylum-seekers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to neighbouring Angola and some 12,000 into Zambia.
The reconciliation between the Government of Mozambique and the opposition has progressed in past months. A tri-partite agreement between UNHCR and the Governments of Malawi and Mozambique is currently being finalized to repatriate some 3,000 Mozambican asylum-seekers from Malawi. Zimbabwe is also hosting over 7,500 Mozambican asylum-seekers.
Although several countries in the sub-region are experiencing economic growth, many are still struggling with inequalities, poverty, seasonal floods, drought, food shortages, poor social protection, xenophobia and a high HIV/AIDS prevalence. Mixed movements are putting a strain on national asylum systems and triggering restrictive migration and refugee policies in the region.
While nearly all countries are parties to international and regional refugee instruments, most still have reservations regarding freedom of movement and access to employment, thus keeping refugees mainly in camps and settlements.
UNHCR continues to advocate for accession to and ratification of international and/or regional instruments on refugees, IDPs and stateless persons, as well as for lifting reservations to these instruments; support the development of national legal frameworks. In close cooperation with governments, the Office continues to advocate for the prevention of xenophobia; improve the protection of refugees and asylum-seekers within mixed movement —particularly within SADC; promote alternatives to detention; find comprehensive solutions particularly to protracted refugee situations and former refugees still hosted by asylum countries; improve standards of assistance through empowerment of refugees, self-reliance, livelihoods and implementation of cash-based interventions; and promote the implementation of the global action plan to end statelessness by 2024.
UNHCR is pursuing a multi-year protection and solutions strategy for 2018-2021 to ensure that governments, with support of UNHCR and other stakeholders, assume responsibility for refugees, asylum-seekers and stateless persons.
Response and implementation
The Indian Ocean Island States do not host significant numbers of people of concern to UNHCR. UNHCR will continue to monitor the situation mainly through partners and periodic missions. UNHCR is encouraging Comoros and Mauritius to accede to international refugee and statelessness instruments, and to establish referral mechanism to coordinate the management of asylum-seekers, refugees and stateless persons. Seychelles has requested UNHCR’s technical support in drafting a national legal asylum framework that could serve as a model for other Indian Ocean Island States. Seychelles has also shown interest in acceding to statelessness conventions.
Botswana is hosting 2,136 refugees and 695 asylum-seekers. The refugees reside in Dukwi refugee camp in line with the Government’s encampment policy. UNHCR will continue to advocate for lifting reservations to the 1951 Convention, offer providing technical assistance to the Government in legislative review and refuge status determination, and seek solutions to asylum-seekers detained at the Centre for Illegal Immigrants in Francistown.
Lesotho hosts 48 people of concern. UNHCR will continue advocating for the local integration of long-staying refugees as well as providing capacity building to authorities on the refugee status determination and management of refugees and asylum-seekers.
Madagascar is hosting 89 refugees and asylum-seekers. UNHCR will continue supporting Madagascar in the management of refugees and asylum-seekers through the provision of social and legal assistance by an implementing partner. UNHCR also advocates and provides technical assistance in the ratification of statelessness conventions and adoption of legislation based on nationality. For example, in February, the Government promulgated an amendment to the nationality law granting men and women equal rights to pass on their nationality to their children, thereby removing gender discrimination as a cause for statelessness.
Namibia hosts some 3,900 refugees and asylum-seekers in Osire Refugee Settlement and in urban areas. In line with the phase out strategy, UNHCR provides shelter, food and core relief items through its local implementing partner and supports the government in absorbing the assistance activities. UNHCR also supports the government in the local integration of some 1,700 former Angolan refugees who are in the process of receiving residence permits.
UNHCR provides protection and assistance mainly through a local implementing partner to over 1,200 refugees and asylum-seekers residing in Malindza Reception Center and in urban areas in Swaziland. UNHCR will also continue providing technical support to the government in the finalization of the new refugee law and on statelessness issues.
2018 Budget and Expenditure in Southern Africa | USD
|South Africa Regional Office||Budget|
2018 Voluntary Contributions to Southern Africa | USD
|Earmarking / Donor||Pillar 1
|Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF)||591,794||0||591,794|
|Private donors in Italy||271||0||271|
|Private donors in Japan||74,438||0||74,438|
|United States of America||4,044,544||493,599||4,538,143|
|Private donors in Japan||457,940||0||457,940|
|Private donors in Sweden||228||0||228|
|United States of America||17,427||0||17,427|
|South Africa Regional Office|
|Private donors in Japan||7,455||0||7,455|
|Private donors in Switzerland||40,405||0||40,405|
|United States of America||297,940||0||297,940|
|South Africa Regional Office subtotal||425,800||89,953||515,753|
|Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF)||2,025,521||0||2,025,521|
|Private donors in Sweden||280,821||0||280,821|
|United States of America||6,200,000||0||6,200,000|
|Private donors in Japan||112,688||0||112,688|