FACT CHECK: IS SA HOME TO MORE THAN A MILLION ASYLUM-SEEKERS?
Africa Check clarifies if SA is home to the highest number of unresolved asylum cases in the world.
Researched by Richard Stupart, edited by Laura Grant and Nechama Brodie
With more than 3.2-million refugees and asylum seekers displaced in 2015 alone, is it possible that South Africa is home to the highest number of asylum seekers in the world?
When Africa Check was asked to investigate similar claims back in 2013, it found that asylum seeker data supplied by both the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs was “flawed, inaccurate, and sharply contradictory” – and that statements made to South African media, that the country had received the “highest number of asylum applications worldwide” – were unproven. Despite this, international media reports continue to list South Africa as being the country with “the most asylum seekers awaiting determination”.
In June 2016 the UNHCR published a new report on global trends in forced displacement, based on 2015 data. According to the report, by the end of 2015 the number of asylum claims in South Africa had risen to 1,096,063 – a rather startling figure considering that, in the previous reporting period (2014), South Africa had listed only 463,900 pending asylum claims. The UNHCR report was quickly picked up by local media, with headlines stating that there were “1-million asylum-seekers” in South Africa.