Durban Action Against Xenophobia

June 4, 2008

3rd June Update on Refugee Status

Filed under: Updates — durbancrisis @ 6:58 am
Tags: , , ,

Today we focussed on trying to work out why Durban Metro and the other official governmental bodies had failed to get organised to handle the refugee crisis, and see what could be done about this.

The good news is the Province is officially taking over the problem, and they have surveyed several sites with a view establishing 3-5 large refugee camps in Durban. Hopefully these will be properly designed and serviced up to United Nations specifications, and will go a long way to ensuring that until a further resolution is reached. The refugees will at least be sheltered under safe and sanitary conditions, while being fed and otherwise provided for. Province has considerable funds and resources, and there is at least the possibility that it could be done properly.

On the down side it became even clearer that Durban Metro just hasn’t got their game together. The attitude being projected seems to be that the Red Cross, churches and other NGOs should handle the problem.

It seems that even the people that are trying to monitor the problem are led to believe that it is more under control than it actually is.

This leads us to focus on a quite specific problem – the gap between when current supplies we provided to Red Cross run out and when the Provicial refugee camps are effectively up and running. At this stage nobody knows how big that gap will be, but it presents a potentially serious crisis. We believe that Durban Metro should step into this gap, and those of you that still intend to contact your local Ward Councillor or the press, should focus on this very specific issue.

I spoke to Councillors Gloria Borman (ANC) and Sue Burrows (DA) and they were quite sympathetic, but also seemed to have been told that the problem is much less serious that it really is. They had both at least gone to see the shelters in the Wards.

Cyril Vezi of Red Cross has applied for 3 months funding to provide food for the refugees, but the question is also how long it will take for that to become available. Durban seems to be a low priority within the national Red Cross hierarchies because we have far fewer refugees than Gauteng or the Western Cape.

At the same time the official plan is to help those refugees who want to return to their home countries to do so. Unfortunately for many of them that is just not an option, especially for those from DRC and Burundi, who have fled civil wars and have nothing to go back to. The same applies in a less drastic way to many Zimbabweans.

At a later stage we will consider the problem of having people staying indefinitely in refugee camps in the middle of a hostile city – a very weird situation by any estimation. But sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof, and today we will simply focus on the period between when current resouces dry up and the refugee camps are up and running.

increase the peace


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