Why We Exist
Millions of immigrants live in South Africa. Estimates range between two to five million, with the most vulnerable being asylum seekers, refugees, and undocumented immigrants. These vulnerable people constitute the largest share of the immigrant population. The fact that such a large share of the immigrant population in South Africa is undocumented is in part a result of huge backlogs, poor management, corruption, and a lack of resources at Refugee Reception Centers. An incoherent immigration policy has compounded these issues.
Undocumented immigrants are acutely vulnerable. Their lack of representation in civil society and community activism leaves them with tenuous access to education, healthcare, labour rights, shelter, and other basic human rights. They are among the most easily exploited individuals in South Africa and are often victims of hate crimes and xenophobic aggression. We fight for the rights of this acutely marginalized group of people.
A society devoid of injustice, prejudice, and discrimination, where people are whole, free, and confident in all aspects of their diversity.
We seek to provide a voice for the voiceless – to empower immigrant and refugee communities through activism, community participation, integration, and education. We believe that the struggle of immigrants and refugees is a global one, and we seek to build international solidarity around issues affecting migration, documentation status, and refugee rights.
People Against Suffering, Suppression, Oppression, and Poverty (PASSOP) was founded in 2007 by a group of Zimbabweans in South Africa in response to an influx of Zimbabweans fleeing Robert Mugabe’s oppressive regime. Growing anti-immigrant xenophobia inspired our founders to work towards empowering immigrant and refugee communities and lobbying for their rights.
Since its founding, PASSOP has worked to counteract violence against immigrants and refugees. Owing to our extensive community links, we were among the first organizations in the Western Cape to report on and react to xenophobic violence, including in Du Noon and Imizamo Yethu in 2008, De Doorns and Masiphumelele in 2009, and Mbekweni in 2010.
PASSOP continues to operate as a community-based non-profit organization focused on promoting the rights of refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants in South Africa. We also focus on supporting LGBTIQ refugees and immigrants, recognizing their vulnerability to persecution and the pervasive criminalization of their existence throughout Africa.
We provide immigrant and refugee empowerment through anti-xenophobia help desks, paralegal advice and services for undocumented individuals, integration events and workshops, monitoring of Internally Displaced Persons camps, and various advocacy campaigns.
PASSOP is unique among South African non-profits organizations, drawing mostly of our members and volunteers from the refugee community. Most of staff consists of volunteers, and we are supported by an extensive network of international interns and donations.
PASSOP is administered by The PASSOP Board, consisting of six trustees that are responsible for overseeing the organization’s operations. They ensure that the organization upholds the interest of the public, and they monitor and advise on the work done by the Director of PASSOP.