The main responsibilities of the Refugees Department are catergoried into the following:

  • Provide asylum to asylum seekers and refugees
  • Verify and register asylum seekers
  • Issue and renue status permits of aylum seekers
  • ensure a sustainable refugee reception Centre
  • Provide hospitality services to asylum seekers


The department has mandate of protecting Refugees and asylum seekers in the country. Refugees’ protection and subsequent provision of basic services that are required by refugees and asylum seekers is executed through systematic program designed to be a one stop shop for all those that would need assistance. 


The refugee regime in Eswatini is mainly composed of three units. These are the Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini through Ministry of Home Affairs, United Nations Agency called United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Caritas Swaziland. This tripartite is also assisted by other stakeholders be it Governmental Departments, Non-Governmental Organizations and faith based institutions.


The Ministry of Home Affairs Refugee Section in executing its mandate of guaranteeing the protection and assistance of asylum seekers and refugees, acting together with its partner United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and it’s a implementing partner Caritas Swaziland ensures the provision of the following:

  • Legal Protection
  • Educatio
  • Health
  • Counseling
  • Shelter
  • Food Assistance
  • Income generating opportunities
  • Skills Training

Legal Protection

The refugee section carries out individual refugee registration to enhance their legal protection.


Refugee children are assisted to enroll with local schools as a means of promoting local integration. Refugee parents are encouraged to contribute meaningfully towards the education of their children with UNHCR providing funding to assist with the remainder of the fees.


The on-site clinic at Malindza Refugee Reception Centre is a primary health care facility attending to the health needs of refugees and the local community .Illnesses requiring secondary health care facilities (e.g. Good Shepherd Hospital) which is 22 kilometers from the Centre.


The staff at the Refugee Section (both Headquarters and Malindza) offer counseling services to the refugees in need, given the inherent traumatic effect of refugee flight and also provides psychological support.


New arrivals are accommodated at Malindza Reception Center where they are provided with household items which include blankets etc.

Food Assistance

New arrivals receive food prepared in the center’s communal kitchen .Beneficiaries include asylum seekers and those with special needs such as sick elderly , physically and mentally challenged and other vulnerable groups which include children who are below 18 years of age.

Income generating opportunities

The Kingdom of Eswatini provides a perfect environment for refugees to realize their potential and utilize their skills and talents. Many refugees are gainfully employed in Eswatini as doctors, teachers and engineers to mention a few. Malindza based refugees take advantage of the Vast tract of arable land and irrigation water to produce a variety of crops for both subsistence and semi-commercial purposes.

Skills training

The government of Eswatini together with the United Nations High Commissioner (UNHCR) and it’s partners encourage and provide financial assistance to refugees to acquire skills through vocational training so as to empower them to enter the open market.



A refugee is a person who has been forced to leave his or her home and seek refuge elsewhere. Under the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees of 1951, a refugee is more narrowly defined as a person who "owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country". The concept of a refugee was expanded by the Convention's 1967 Protocol and by regional conventions in Africa and Latin America to include persons who had fled war or other violence in their home country. Refugee women and children represent an additional subsection of refugees that need special attention.


The term refugee is often used to include displaced persons who may fall outside the legal definition in the Convention, either because they have left their home countries because of war and not because of a fear of persecution, or because they have been forced to migrate within their home countries. The Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa, adopted by the Organisation of African Unity in 1969, employs a definition expanded from the Convention's, including people who left their countries of origin not only because of persecution but also due to acts of external aggression, occupation, domination by foreign powers or serious disturbances of public order.


Refugees were defined as a legal group in response to the large numbers of people fleeing Eastern Europe following World War II. The lead international agency coordinating refugee protection is the Office of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), which counted 8,400,000 refugees worldwide at the beginning of 2006.

This was the lowest number since 1980. The major exception is the 4,600,000 Palestinian refugees under the authority of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), who are the only group to be granted refugee status to the descendants of refugees according to the above definition. The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants gives the world total as 62,000,000 refugees and estimates there are over 34,000,000 displaced by war, including internally displaced persons, who remain within the same national borders. The majority of refugees who leave their country seek asylum in countries neighboring their country of nationality. The "durable solutions" to refugee populations, as defined by UNHCR and governments, are: voluntary repatriation to the country of origin; local integration into the country of asylum; and resettlement to a third country.


Under International Law, refugees are individuals who:

  • are outside their country of nationality or habitual residence;
  • have a well-founded fear of persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion; and
  • are unable or unwilling to avail themselves of the protection of that country, or to return there, for fear of persecution.
  • Refugee Law encompasses customary law, peremptory norms, and international legal instruments. These include:
  • The 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees; also referred to as the Geneva Convention;
  • The 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees;
  • The 1969 OAU Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa


In the kingdom of Eswatini refugees reside at the Malindza Refugee Centre in the Lubombo region and this is where most people are expected to stay, receiving emergency food and medical aid, until it is safe to return to their homes or until they are retrieved by other people outside the camps. In some cases, often after several years, other countries decide it will never be safe to return these people, and they are resettled in "third countries", away from the border they crossed. However, more often than not, refugees are not resettled. In the meantime, they are at risk for disease, child soldier recruitment, terrorist recruitment, and physical and sexual violence. There are estimated to be 700 refugee camp locations.


 Not all migrants seeking shelter in another country fall under the definition of "refugee" according to article 1A of the Geneva Convention. In 1951, when the text of the Convention was discussed, the parties of the treaty had the idea that slavery was a thing from the past: therefore escaped and fleeing slaves are a group not mentioned in the definition, as well as a category that later emerged: the climate refugee (Environmental migrant")

In 2008-2009, the humanitarian nature of the mass movement of Zimbabweans to neighbouring Southern Africa (including the Kingdom of Eswatini) blurred the distinction between what is a "refugee" and an "economic migrant". Such people fit neither category perfectly and have more general needs, rights and responsibilities that fall outside the specific mandate of the UNHCR

OffCanvas Menu