Refugee Research Internship, South Africa

An opportunity to research issues of the migratory phenomenon across Africa

If you have research skills and a passion for human rights, this Refugee Research Internship is your chance to make an impact where it really counts. You’ll be interning with the Scalabrini Institute for Human Mobility (SIHMA) in Cape Town to help realize their vision: “An Africa where the human rights of people on the move are ensured and their dignity is promoted”

Through publishing their scientifically researched journals and reports, SIHMA raises awareness and advocates legislative change for migrants in South Africa. As part of their team, interns help to strengthen rights and improve integration of asylum-seekers, refugees, and diasporic communities.

And, of course, SIHMA provides a fruitful exchange for their interns too. You’ll gain valuable experience in Human Rights work and academic publishing, professional development in scientific research and data-analysis, and unique insight into the running of an NGO. From writing up key findings to conducting interviews to managing databases; there are a bounty of opportunities for interns to take advantage of.

Cape Town, South Africa
Environmental NGO
Facilitation, Research, Reporting, Monitoring, Education, Tree planting
8 Weeks


Founded in 2014, the Scalabrini Institute for Human Mobility in Africa (SIHMA) is a Cape Town based research institute advocating for the rights of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees. Their mission is to conduct and disseminate research that contributes to the understanding of human mobility and informs the policies that ensure the rights of people on the move. As part of a large network of secular nonprofit organizations, SIHMA has partnerships in over 30 countries, strong visibility, and produces vital research into the plight of refugees and migrants.


What you’ll do during the internship
  • Assist with qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis
  • Conduct interviews
  • Carry out literature reviews
  • Appraise the quality of research and writing up findings
  • Provide administrative assistance with the upkeep of records and databases
  • Take part in forums and workshops for stakeholders
Internship requirements
  • A degree in a relevant field (Human Rights, Social Sciences, Statistics, etc.)
  • Experience with qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis
  • Organizational skills and attention to detail
  • Fluent English skills are required and knowledge of other languages are a bonus, specifically French and Portuguese
  • Motivation to understand and help the domain of migrants and refugees
  • A minimum commitment of 6 months


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!)


Internship start and end dates are flexible and will be discussed with your during the selection process.

What you’ll pay (2023 rates)

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

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 shared room. 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
Migration, Human Rights, Research 
Min. 5-6 months
From USD 3,517
  • Develop your research skills while working in a nonprofit context
  • Get practical experience with human rights work and academic publishing
  • Gain insight into legislative and policy reform and its proper implementation
  • Meet, work with, and support migrants, refugees and diasporic communities
  • Live and work in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Cape Town
5 MONTHS USD 3,517
6 MONTHS USD 4,085

See Detailed Rates



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

Fill in the application form (it will show in a new screen) which includes sharing your CV with us.

We’ll set up a call with you to go through your application.

If we feel it’s a good match, we’ll set up a call between you and the supervisor for this internship.

If everyone’s happy, we’ll provisionally confirm your placement! We’ll then send you  all the information you need.

We’ll then send you the invoice for the deposit. 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 below. We’ll be happy to assist!


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