Finding a place in the city : a case study of Great Lakes region refugees in the eThekwini municipality.
Worldwide the experiences of refugees on place and their integration into host countries are understood differently. This study seeks to understand how asylum seekers and refugees found a place and settled in South Africa cities. The study focuses on asylum seekers and refugees, not on economic immigrants. By using a qualitative case study approach, the research has been able to explore how Great Lakes region refugees, living in the eThekwini Metropolitan Area, negotiate their place in the city and to what extent they are and they can be integrated into the eThekwini municipal IDP (Integrated Development Planning). The study explores their life experiences of place, social exclusion, social networks and views on their integration. Refugees and key stakeholders in Durban Metropolitan were interviewed and conclusions are drawn from their responses and the literature consulted. The eThekwini Metropolitan inner-city area was chosen as the focus of the research because the majority of Great Lake region refugees are living and working in this area (personal life experience - the researcher, 2010). Nineteen refugees (including three community leaders), and ten stakeholders were chosen and interviewed by using purposive and snowball sampling methods. Interviews were conducted by using in-depth interviews while data was analyzed using the interpretative-descriptive research approach. A multicultural theory is used as the main approach to understand and to guide this study. Therefore some of the findings emanating from this study will add to the understanding of how to deal with the complexity of our urban spaces and provide challenges and opportunities which planning needs to understand and engage within the response of refugee communities in South African cities. This includes installation of refugee reception centres at the point of entry, refugees' integration of municipal policies, and efficient implementation of the existing South African refugee policies.