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!!!
South Africa is to set up seven refugee camps around the country for foreign migrant workers who have fled a recent wave of anti-immigrant violence.
The holding camps will take up to 70,000 people from the increasingly unsanitary conditions at temporary shelters put up around state buildings. The government decision comes despite strong advice from respected international aid agencies.
They say South Africa does not have the expertise necessary to run the camps. Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF), the medical charity, says conditions for people seeking refuge in the existing shelters are worsening.
This is embarrassing for a country that has suffered for so long and so much in camps!
South Africa has joined international calls for Zimbabwe‘s electoral commission to release the results of last month’s presidential election.
A South African government spokesman said they should be published as soon as possible. South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki is mediating in Zimbabwe’s crisis but has been accused of failing to put pressure on Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe. The opposition MDC says it won the election outright.
Government spokesman Themba Maseko said there was a fear that the situation in Zimbabwe could deteriorate because the results of the presidential poll had not been released. “It is our view that all the participants should come together, sort out all the causes of the delay, and then release the results as a matter of urgency,” he said. When asked whether South Africa still adhered to a policy of “quiet diplomacy” in dealings with Zimbabwe, Mr. Maseko said that South Africa’s position had not “been coming out as clearly as it should.”
About time for South Africa and Mbeki to do something!
South African President Thabo Mbeki has defended his record on Zimbabwe, while playing down the crisis at a UN debate.
His governing ANC party, however, said it was concerned about the deepening crisis brewing in its neighbor. Gordon Brown told the UN Security Council no one believed Robert Mugabe won last month’s presidential election in the country.
Meanwhile, the opposition in Zimbabwe said 50 supporters were arrested after a strike over delayed poll results. Mr. Mbeki had said there was “no crisis” in Zimbabwe after meeting Mr. Mugabe on Saturday. He defended those remarks in New York, saying dialogue was essential to bring about a resolution to the situation in Zimbabwe, where 18 days after presidential elections, electoral officials have yet to announce a result.
“The solution to the problem of Zimbabwe lies in the hands of the people of Zimbabwe,” he said. “In our engagement with the situation, we needed to talk continuously at all times with both the ruling party and the opposition.”
The truth Mr. Mbeki, Mr. UN General Secretary, African Union and the rest of you is that you failed and the people of Zimbabwe have to pay your failure, Mugabe the caricature African Hitler is still on power and there is no excuse for that!
Today is a day to remember internationally, a very unique day, in 1992, white South Africans have backed an overwhelming mandate for political reforms to end apartheid and create a power-sharing multi-racial government. In a landslide victory for change, the government swept the polls in all four provinces, and all but one of 15 referendum regions. It won 68.6% of the vote in a record turn-out, which, in some districts exceeded 96%.