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Neighbors in Need - Zimbabweans Seeking Refuge in South Africa June 2008


Since 2005 an estimated one to 1.5 million Zimbabweans have fled across the border
into South Africa, the region’s economic power. They have run from persecution, for
the majority in the form of targeted, mass, forced evictions destroying homes and
livelihoods, and from economic destitution as the Zimbabwean economy collapses.
Recent refugees fleeing the brutal crackdown on political opponents of President
Robert Mugabe in the aftermath of the March 2008 Zimbabwean elections are the
latest wave.

In South Africa they face a vulnerable and uncertain situation. Without documents,
they have no right to work and have limited rights and access to social assistance
such as health care and housing. Liable to arrest and deportation at any time, they
live in permanent insecurity. Due to South Africa’s dysfunctional asylum system and
unlawful deportation practices, many of the tens of thousands that have applied for
asylum are at constant risk of being refouled—unlawfully returned.

Human Rights Watch
Original Publication Date: 
18 Dec 2012
Document type: 
Analysis Report
South Africa
Human Rights and IHL
Refugees and Returnees