Towards Improving Forced Migrant Access to Health and Psychosocial Rights in Urban South Africa - A Focus on Johannesburg

This issue brief is a quick reference guide regarding urban forced migrant access to their legally guaranteed health and psychosocial rights in Johannesburg. We focus on the urban as, in the South African context, forced migrants are mostly found in urban areas. There are no refugee camps in South Africa; the country’s refugee policy encourages refugees and asylum seekers to self-settle and integrate. Forced migrants mostly settle in cities and - in some cases - contribute to the growing population of the ‘urban poor’ found in South African cities, falling within the peripheries of health and social welfare provision by local authorities. An urban health lens is therefore applied to exploring forced migrant access to their legally guaranteed health and psychosocial rights. This involves a consideration of the intra-urban health inequalities associated with cities, particularly in the case of Johannesburg which is acknowledged to be one of the most unequal cities in the world. Urban poor groups experience an “urban health penalty” due to their exposure to unhealthy physical and social conditions. Existing research highlights problematic access to public healthcare and other positive determinants of health for all urban poor groups within South Africa, including urban forced migrants. It is within this context that access to the legally guaranteed health and psychosocial rights – including access to public healthcare – of urban forced migrants are explored.