Refugee camps, stark xenophobia memories

2015-09-10 06:00
PHOTO: supplied 

Some of the foreign nationals on a farm in Howick queue to receive donations from Gift of the Givers.

PHOTO: supplied Some of the foreign nationals on a farm in Howick queue to receive donations from Gift of the Givers.

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REFUGEE camps in Cato Ridge and Mpophomeni remain a stark memory of xenophobic­ attacks that swept across KZN, leaving seven people dead and many homeless.

Apart from the refugee camp in Cato Ridge, there is another one on Ngobola Farm, owned by Sharron Aurets near Mpophomeni in Howick­.

The camp accommodates 59 foreign nationals and their children from Congo and Burundi, all victims of xenophobic attacks that occurred a few months ago.

The farm is small, and there is hardly any shelter or houses for the 59 squatters and their children, but they appear to be happy and are prepared to do anything to survive.

Dr Douglas Dziya, director of the KwaZulu-Natal Christian Council (KZNCC), said the group comes from previous camps in Isipingo and Chatsworth.

Dziya said many are still scared and traumatised by what happened to them.

He says it’s a difficult for them to be reintegrated into communities because of the past.

“We are trying our best and some of them are still receiving counselling about what they experienced­. We are also grateful that organisations, such as Gift of the Givers, is still on board and is supporting us in many ways,” said Dziya.

Farm assistant Yvone Mullican said: “These people are suffering and desperate for help.”

Gift of the Givers warehouse operations manager Sallim Sayed said it was unfortunate that many organisations pulled out from fighting against xenophobia and supporting refugees, but said he was happy that his disaster organisation is still involved in ongoing projects of support.

“We are glad that we are still helping in Mpophomeni and Cato Ridge refugees camps. Our support is ongoing, unfortunately, some organisation have dropped out,” said Sayed.

Last Tuesday Gift of the Givers donated blankets, bulk food, personal packs and other items to the camp

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