The Agency for Refugee Education, Skills Training & Advocacy (ARESTA) is a Cape Town based Nonprofit and Public Benefit Organisation. ARESTA is registered with the NPO Directorate of the Department of Social Development as well as with the South African Revenue Services and with the National Department of Higher Education: Education Management Information System (EMIS).


ARESTA is an implementing partner of the UNHCR which means that it assists refugees and asylum seekers arriving in South Africa and more specifically in the Cape Town area with education, legal matters and integration into the South African society.


ARESTA works in accordance with the South African Refugees Act 130 of 1998 that sets out South Africa’s responsibility towards refugees as well as refugee’s rights and obligations.




 Its foundation took place in January 1996 and it was registered as an NPO in September 2001.


South Africa is one of the countries with the highest number of asylum seekers and refugees yet at the same time they are amongst the most vulnerable and marginalized group of people in South Africa. Most have suffered political or social trauma, they have been victims of natural disasters, wars, physical and emotional abuse, loss of family and belongings, sexual violence and massive human rights violations. Asylum seekers and refugees flee to South African seeking safety and protection.


ARESTA was established to advocate for asylum seekers and refugees and provide psychosocial support to those wishing to integrate successfully within the South African Society. While they come to ARESTA, we involve them in programmes geared towards regaining their human dignity and self-worth through education and training. We do this within an educative, supportive and healing environment. ARESTA’s services and activities aim to provide refugees with the support and assistance required to rebuild their lives and integrate into South African community.


ARESTA works in collaboration with South African government and is involved in lobbying, media outreach, refugee rights awareness, education and advocacy campaign management.


ARESTA’s objectives are to improve the quality of refugees' lives through the provision of educational, psychosocial services; to restore the human dignity of refugees through Education and Training; to promote Refugees' local integration; to facilitate skills development and employment opportunity for the Refugee Community; to advocate for the improvement of Refugees and Asylum seekers situation in South Africa; to facilitate job creation and income generation activities within the refugee community: empower Refugees toward self-sustainability; to promote gender equity and diversity mainstream in ARESTA's structures, projects and activities; to develop and strengthen partnerships and networks with other Refugee service providers, governmental institutions, structures and/or agencies; to enhance the research and information on security and development activities in various countries of origin of refugee and asylum seekers; and to promote voluntary repatriation as alternative to local integration.




As ARESTA’s projects are always a collaborative effort between the organisation and the community, a needs assessment study is first conducted within the community to inform programme design, development and implementation.


ARESTA recognizes that it is essential to consult community members throughout programme design and implementation to ensure that services and informational materials address their concerns and needs. Focus group discussion with all sectors of the community as well as existing community groups ensure that local needs and cultural considerations are taken into account. Most importantly, this method ensures “ownership” of the programmes by the communities, with a higher probability of success.

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