Last year alone, 32,558 people and their applications came in. Although the pace of processing has quickened, the backlog has clogged up the system, making it more and more difficult for legitimate refugees to receive the protection and assistance South Africa provides, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said. The pending cases include 27,000 from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), nearly 15,000 from Somalia, 14,000 from Angola, 12,500 from Nigeria, 6,600 from Ethiopia and 6,000 from Zimbabwe. In addition, some 12,600 Pakistanis and 10,400 Indians have asked for asylum, UNHCR said.Of the 27,683 people recognized as refugees by the South African authorities over the past decade, more than 9,000 have come from DRC, more than 7,000 from Somalia and nearly 6,000 from Angola, UNHCR said. Official recognition as a refugee allows access to local social services and the right to work.The Government is adding more than 200 new refugee eligibility officers, most of them lawyers, to handle the individual interviews that provide the basis for deciding whether an applicant is accepted or rejected. In addition to training new staff at South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs (DHA), UNHCR has provided computer equipment to strengthen the refugee registration system and has advised on improving the standards for data-handling.