The Refugee Rights Unit is a research unit and community Law clinic based in the Law Faculty. This unit is one of the Faculty's critical areas of work in terms of community engagement, social responsiveness and direct application of theory to practice.
The work of the Unit comprises clinic services, research unit, teaching, and advocacy & training. The provision of legal aid for refugees was started as a project within the existing UCT Law Clinic, and became operationally independent as the Refugee Rights Project in 2006.
This endeavour has since evolved into a fully-fledged research Unit, incorporating the Refugee Rights Clinic which provides direct legal services to thousands of refugees and asylum seekers each year. The Unit conducts applied research in refugee law and related topics; teaches refugee law to undergraduate law and masters' students in the Faculty's Public Law Department; undertakes a significant amount of targeted advocacy and training of government officials, the judiciary, civil society partners and refugee communities; and participates in global discussion on legislative frameworks and policies around refugee status in various jurisdictions.
The Refugee Rights Unit is funded by, and operates as an implementing partner of, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). It currently receives further funding from EU Horizon 2020 as part of the Global Asylum Governance and the European Union’s Role’ (ASILE) project, as well as the Julia Taft Refugee Fund and the Claude Leon Foundation. Previous funders include the Atlantic Philanthropies and the Sigrid Rausing Trust.