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Province sets new date for refugee reintegration

Resource type: News

Cape Argus (South Africa) |

Original Source By Francis Hweshe The Western Cape government has acknowledged the fears expressed by some refugees over their reintegration, but says it willcontinue to work towards returning them to the communities from which they were displaced. During the xenophobic attacks in May, about 20,000 immigrants fled informal settlements and were accommodated in safe shelters provided by the provincial government, the City and private sanctuaries such as churches and mosques. The provincial government subsequently announced its plans to complete reintegrating the displaced people by yesterday, but it has now said the safe sites will remain open until September 3. Provincial disaster management centre head Hildegarde Fast said yesterday that 75% of the refugees had gone back to their communities. Those who refused to return said they feared for their safety, were they to go back, while others said they felt insecure as they had lost their shops and homes during the attacks and had no means to restart their livelihoods. They were unsure as to how they were going to rebuild their lives after having lost their homes and businesses. “We have to understand the refugees’ concerns,” Fast said, adding that the mediation process would continue to ensure that those in camps returned safely to their communities. Fast said there was a need to improve the services offered in the camps, such as medical care and education for children. To date, some 5,000 refugees remained in various camps. Some said they wanted to return to their homes, while others said they had returned but had again beenforced to leave. A SA Human Rights Commission report has said the conditions at the camps are “inhumane” and that, despite the government’s undertaking to issue minimum standards and norms for water, sanitation, hygiene promotion and food security, they had not yet materialised. Earlier this week the Treatment Action Campaign hosted a press conference where civil society organisations and refugee leaders accused the government of ignoring the plight of refugees. © Cape Argus 2008. All rights reserved.

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