No to refugee camps

South Africa‘s government has denied it is setting up massive migrant or refugee camps for the tens of thousands of foreigners who fled recent attacks.

Aid agencies had said the government would reveal plans to set up seven camps for up to 70,000 people. But a home affairs spokeswoman said temporary shelters accommodating 2,000 each would be set up instead. A formal announcement will be made on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the UN said it is helping South Africa plan relief efforts. It is conducting a survey of the conditions in the police stations and municipal halls in which the displaced people are currently living, UN spokesman George Nsiah said.

Medical charity Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF) has warned that those sheltering in makeshift camps or outdoors have been left without protection – either physical or legal. “It’s very cold at night; it’s almost like one or two degrees. It’s been raining in the last few days,” said MSF South Africa programme director Muriel Cornelis.

“And then legal protection – most of them do not have any status, no legal status, no temporary status.” A spokesman for the UNHCR said very few of the displaced foreigners fit the formal definition of “refugee”.

Nevertheless, the government is coming under considerable pressure to organize better accommodation than the makeshift camps currently housing most of the displaced people. Correspondents say it has made it clear that any option which isolates rather than integrates foreigners into the community would be contrary to its policy.

That’s one thing I found really difficult to believe and I’m happy is not true, refugee camps in South Africa, that was …going too far!!!

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