Advocacy and Human Rights Internship with NGO, Cape Town

offer legal advice and practical assistance TO REFUGEES, MIGRANTS AND ASYLUM SEEKERS with the aim to ensure their rights are respected

Do you have an interest in migration and refugee issues, and a passion for legally assisting refugees? This Advocacy and Human Rights Internship might be exactly what you are looking for.

During this exciting internship, you will be working on the Advocacy Programme that offers legal advice and practical assistance with a special focus on vulnerable individuals, with the aim to ensure that their rights are respected. You will be assisting with asylum application processes, documenting and following up on hate crime/xenophobic incidents, researching South African legislation and refugee issues in Africa or dealing with unaccompanied minor projects. An excellent opportunity to make an impact and contribute to cultural, social and economic integration between migrants, refugees, and South Africans.

Cape Town, South Africa
Social NGO
Human rights, refugee law and migration issues
20-26 Weeks
From USD 3,517

This organization started in Cape Town in 1994 as religious assistance to different communities of migrants but soon expanded to offering more tangible assistance as they were confronted with the problems experienced by refugees from Angola, the Congos, Rwanda, Burundi and other African communities. In 2003 a secular non-government organization was started to run these projects, the Scalabrini Center of Cape Town (SCCT).

Migration is perceived as an opportunity by this organization, so they are on a mission to alleviate poverty and promoting development in the Western Cape while fostering cultural, social and economic integration between migrants, refugees, and South Africans. In providing their assistance they advocate respect for human rights and use a holistic approach that considers all basic needs.

Every month around 2000 people visit the center, which offers service through six main programme areas:

  • Advocacy: Protecting, promoting and advancing the rights and freedoms of migrants and refugees by providing paralegal advice and practical assistance to individuals on a walk-in basis. In addition, this team works on driving deeper systemic change in the South African society and immigration and asylum systems.
  • English School: Providing a specialized English language school for refugees and migrants.
  • Employment Access: Providing a gateway to employment by providing support to foreign nationals who are legally entitled to look for work in South Africa. The organization provides a combination of skills training, professional development, and resources needed for success in the job market.
  • Unite: A unique extra-curricular curriculum for grade 8-11, which provokes a deep exploration of the themes of identity, integration, and diversity to promote activism and critical thought in youth living in South Africa.
  • Welfare: Accessing services for migrants and refugees in need. Through a process of consultation, they assist individuals to access basic services such as medical care, schooling, shelter, South African Social Grants (SASSA grants) and assistance with advice/application for voluntary repatriation.
  • Women’s Platform: A multi-national network of women that strengthens individuals to enhance economic independence and integration into the broader South African community.

During this internship, you will be working on the Advocacy Program that offers legal advice and practical assistance with a special focus on vulnerable individuals, with the aim to ensure that their rights are respected. While the program takes on any kind of issues related to discrimination due to someone’s nationality, the program has a particular focus on the needs and protection of persons affected by xenophobic violence, disabled refugees, and protection of unaccompanied refugee and migrant children. In addition to assisting individuals, the program also conducts ‘higher level’ advocacy with the aim to change legislation and ensure the implementation of existing laws and procedures. You will assist in the following areas:

  • Documentation: Information and referrals regarding asylum application process, expired documentation/permits, appeal process, repatriation
  • Hate Crimes/Xenophobic Incidents: interview to document details and follow up of individual cases where needed (contact police stations, South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD), counseling, etc.)
  • Children’s Project: Research (compiling research on policies and practices relevant to unaccompanied and separated minors in South Africa and on a comparative level). Casework ( assisting the Advocacy Officer in advising clients with regards to unaccompanied and separated minors, upkeep of Children’s Project database, assistance with translation if applicable, with the guidance of the Advocacy Officer). Individual assistance (making referrals and sometimes accompanying clients to services, with the guidance of the Advocacy Officer)
  • Research: South African government legislation and refugee issues in Africa
What you’ll do
  • Paralegal advice to clients who attend the walk-in advocacy clinic (after you have been trained and have shadowed a staff member on on advising clients). Think off advice on documentation, asylum system access, appeal processes, hate crimes and xenophobic incidents, referrals to other organisations, among other topics
  • Research: this may include assistance in compiling submissions, internal research required, or other research on topics that interest you (and suit the program) as well as compile a weekly press review on refugee and migration related news items
  • Administrative assistance and support as well as assistance with the upkeep of records and databases
  • Participation in stakeholder forums and workshops that are of interest or relevance
  • Assistance with other tasks that are necessary for the daily business of the organization

In general, your tasks will also strongly depend on your previous knowledge, skills, and personal interests. If possible, the organization will try to create a small project that you will be able to lead. The type of project will depend on other projects that are running at the moment and on the current political situation. An example could be a research-oriented project that involves creating a survey, conducting interviews and compiling the collective data.

  • Academic background in a related area such as Political Sciences, Human Rights, Law, etc.
  • Previous practical experience in working with refugees/migrants
  • Knowledge of refugee law and/or migrant issues
  • Pro-active engagement and willingness to get involved in the organization’s various activities
  • Good communication and administrative skills
  • Fluent English skills are necessary. Knowledge of French, Swahili, Lingala, Somali, Arabic or
    Portuguese is an advantage
  • You should be highly motivated to learn about issues related to refugees and migration in
    South Africa and be an independent worker capable of doing their own research
  • Practical, organized and motivated, with a strong ethical motivation
  • Preferably available for 6 months

This organization also offers internships in Communications, English School, Female empowerment, Empowerment of Refugees or a 3-month all-round position.


You’ll be staying at the Lenox, a comfortable guest house in the heart of Cape Town. Built in the old Cape Dutch style, the Lenox is characterful and spacious. It has a garden with a barbeque area, a large dining room, and several other communal spaces. Shared bedrooms take four to eight people, and there are plenty of single rooms available as well (at an extra fee). You’ll be walking distance from a wide range of shops, cafes and restaurants, and at a great spot for some of the touristy highlights Cape Town has to offer as well. (As well as for views of Table Mountain!)


You can start your internship every week, so your final starting date is based on what suits you and the organization the best. Please keep in mind this organization is closed for four weeks of summer holiday in December and January.

What you’ll pay (2023 rates)

5 MONTHS USD 3,517
6 MONTHS USD 4,084

At Roots, we do everything we can to make your internship experience smooth and hassle-free. We offer an all-inclusive service, which means we will help you find the right internship (we believe we are great matchmakers!), help you with visa arrangements, book accommodation for you in Cape Town, give you all the pre-departure information you need before arriving, pick you up from the airport and check in with you while on your work placement to ensure you feel supported.

What you are paying for:
  • Transfer from Cape Town International airport to your accommodation and back on arrival and departure day
  • Accommodation based on a dorm room (4-8 pax). If you prefer a single room, please contact us for availability and prices
  • Two meals (breakfast and dinner) a day from Monday to Friday
  • Assistance with your visa arrangement & other preparations
  • On the ground support during your stay
  • Free WiFi
  • Assistance with finding the perfect work placement
  • Supervision during your internship
  • Check-in and feedback as well as a reference letter after your internship
  • Your own account on a career development platform that offers content and courses focused on exploring different career opportunities
  • Reference letter at the end of your internship
  • A discount on weekend activities, exclusive to Roots interns
  • Flights
  • Visa, medical and travel insurance costs for the duration of your placement – must include cover for repatriation
  • Lunch, drinks, snacks, and items of personal nature (f.e. curios, gifts, clothing)
  • Meals during the weekend
  • Transport to the office
  • Costs for additional excursions or activities

Optional extra:

Personal Development Sessions
To help you optimise your personal and professional development during your internship, we offer individual monthly sessions with a professional consultant. These 1,5-hour sessions offer opportunities to set goals, reflect on your experience, and ensure your internship will benefit your career as much as possible.
Monthly fee: USD 65
Workshop: Exploring the Nonprofit Landscape
To give you a full understanding of the nonprofit sector in Africa, we offer one-off individual online workshops by a South African digital marketing and fundraising specialist. You’ll learn about the needs of the nonprofit sector, best practices in nonprofit management, and sustainability of fundraising initiatives. You’ll also be given a large amount of useful resources.
Workshop fee: USD 65
Cape Town, South Africa
Social NGO
Human rights, refugee law and migration issues
20-26 Weeks
From USD 3,517

My internship was also a way for me to test if working in this specific field was something that I really wanted. I can however guarantee you that at the end of my 6-month period, I was completely convinced about wanting to continue working on legal issues surrounding refugees, asylum seekers and migrants. My time at this nonprofit has therefore played a big role in shaping my future plans, since it was the reason for me to actually start pursuing a career in the world of legal protection concerning refugees and asylum seekers.

Emiel, BelgiumAdvocacy and Human Rights Internship, Cape Town
  • Gain practical experience in human rights, refugee law and migration issues
  • Assist with offering legal advice and practical assistance with a special focus on vulnerable individuals, with the aim to ensure that their rights are respected
  • Get a thorough understanding of the needs and protection of persons affected by xenophobic violence, disabled refugees, and protection of unaccompanied refugee and migrant children
  • Live and work in Cape Town, arguably one of the most stunning cities in the world.
  • Enjoy exploring South Africa’s many highlights during your time off
5 MONTHS USD 3,517
6 MONTHS USD 4,084

See Detailed Rates

How to apply?

If you’re ready to apply for this internship, here’s what to do:

  1. Fill in the application form (it will show in a new screen) and send your CV to
  2. We’ll set up a call with you to go through your application.
  3. If we feel it’s a good match, we’ll set up a call between you and the supervisor for this internship.
  4. If everyone’s happy, we’ll provisionally confirm your placement! We’ll then send you the invoice for the deposit, get started with a detailed booking form, and we’ll give you all the information you need to prepare for your upcoming adventure.
  5. Only once we receive payment of the deposit your placement will be confirmed.

Or if you’d just like to ask us some questions about this internship first, just fill in the contact form on the right. We’ll be happy to assist!

    If you have any questions about this opportunity, please ask us by completing the form below.


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