Refugees refuse to leave Isipingo

2015-05-06 15:52
Officials are considering 
making the Chatsworth refugee camp in KwaZulu-Natal a permanent facility.

Officials are considering making the Chatsworth refugee camp in KwaZulu-Natal a permanent facility. (Matthew Middleton)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

The future of nearly 300 Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi nationals in Durban is unclear after they refused to move out of a refugee camp in Isipingo and into a central camp for remaining refugees on Friday.

Yesterday, as the Isipingo camp was dismantled, negotiators continued to try to convince them to move to Chatsworth, a process they rejected even though the marquees in which they slept had been dismantled.

They fled to the camp when the first wave of xenophobic attacks in the south of Durban began a month ago.

Nongovernmental organisations working at the Isipingo camp reported that fighting broke out on Friday night between residents and police, and members of the Economic Freedom Fighters, who had arrived to assist the foreigners, also clashed with police. The squabbles continued throughout the night and into yesterday morning.

Daniel Dunia, spokesperson for the 260 Congolese who have been at the Isipingo camp since the first wave of attacks at the end of March, said they were concerned that they were going to be dumped in Chatsworth and that authorities had given up trying to reintegrate them into the Isipingo community.

“They tell us there is a plan, but they don’t tell us what it is. They say they are engaging the community, but nobody’s engaging us,” he said.

Dunia said the Congolese were prepared to be repatriated to another country where their refugee status would be recognised, suggesting Botswana because it was “peaceful”.

Steven Gael Juma (31), who has lived in a rented house in Isipingo Rail since 2002, is among those refusing to move to Chatsworth. Juma lost all his computer and phone repair equipment and stock when his shop was looted.

“I have nothing. The landlord has already cleaned my room and has a new tenant. I have nowhere to go. Government needs to do something for us, give us somewhere where we can live safely,” Juma said.

“They tell us there is a plan. People came here from Phoenix. Now they must move to Chatsworth. What is next? Where are we going? Our children are at school in Isipingo. We had businesses here. My ex-girlfriend is Zulu. She and my two children are in Isipingo. If we go to Chatsworth, we will never come back here.”

Doctors Without Borders field coordinator Emi MacLean said the organisation was concerned that not enough was being done to negotiate the safe return of the refugees to their communities ahead of the proposed camp closure in the middle of the week. At the same time, keeping them in the camp in the long term was also not a solution.

“The Burundians and Congolese who remain here can’t make the choice to go home. They are documented refugees and a means has to be found to allow them to return in a way in which they are safe,” said MacLean

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
PARTNER CONTENT
INFOGRAPHIC: New thinking required for retirement

Everything we believe about retirement is fast becoming outdated.

PARTNER CONTENT
WATCH: How education can change a life

A university education gives students the chance to create a better future for themselves, their families and to opportunity achieve their dreams.

/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.