Voice of the Cape

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500 Malawians to be repatriated

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Five hundred Malawian nationals are expected to be repatriated to their home country from three transit camps in Durban on Tuesday.

Doctors without Borders spokesperson Kate Ribet said that a fleet of 22 buses will depart from the three camps on Tuesday morning, the single largest repatriation effort to date since the outbreak of xenophobic violence in the area this month.

Thousands of foreign nationals from African states have been displaced in a wave of violence, and have been housed in temporary camps at three locations in the eThekwini Municipality.

“People in the camps were largely from Malawi, Zimbabwe and Mozambique – countries which have all conducted scaled-up repatriation efforts while the South African government focused its messages on the re-integration of foreign nationals into the communities they fled,” she said.

Ribet said that the exodus will leave the remaining refugees and asylum seekers from countries like the DRC and Burundi “between a rock and a hard place”.

‘Limbo’

“After the expected repatriation today, there will likely be heightened vulnerabilities for a sizable refugee population.

“About 700 refugees and asylum seekers from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi are likely to remain in limbo inside the camps as they cannot return home safely because of war and persecution and they fear returning to the communities from which they fled, in many cases after significant trauma and violence,” Ribet said.

“There is an evident push to close camps very soon, with Phoenix displacement camp being the first after the Malawian mass repatriation today.

“This camp once housed nearly 2500 people but there seems to be have been insufficient preparation for the people who will be left behind after the buses leave for Malawi. Our concern grows for this group of people and the assistance they are offered.

“So far, there have been few reports of successful re-integration experiences. Save for a few, most re-integration experiences suggest a top-down approach by authorities with risks for the people voluntarily returning under heavy police escort to the communities they fled,” she said. News24


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