Numbers at xenophobia refugee camp in Durban on the rise

Durban - The numbers at the only remaining xenophobia refugee camp in KwaZulu-Natal are increasing instead of decreasing, eThekwini Mayor James Nxumalo said on Tuesday.

Nxumalo told exco members that xenophobia in the province had stabilised, however, he was concerned about the growing number of people at the Chatsworth refugee camp.

The Mercury reported on Tuesday that the UN had stepped in to assist the camp with “reintegration packages”.

The packages are reportedly designed to assist foreign nationals who were displaced during the recent xenophobic attacks. The UN is also reportedly providing assistance with a rent subsidy worth R2 000 for families and R1 000 for displaced individuals.

The city said while it was grateful for the intervention, it had asked the UN not to operate at the camp because it believes this was the reason the numbers had increased.

“Initially the number had decreased to 260 people, but we have been told that the number has increased to 600 after intervention from the United Nations.

“We know that the UN has been offering vouchers of about R2 000 per family and that is the reason why the numbers have increased.

“We know the vouchers have attracted other members of the community as well as other foreign nationals back to the camp,” said Nxumalo.

He said the city had raised the matter with the UN High Commissioner.

“We are just worried that more people are going to go back to the camp.” 

Deputy City Manager in Community and Emergency Services Musa Gumede said the city was having difficulty with the remaining group.

“They are running battles with our officials almost on a daily basis.

“We hope that the centre will close down soon. We will be meeting with the national government on Thursday, because they want to know why the shelter is still open because most of the areas have calmed down,” said Gumede.

UN High Commissioner Acacio Juliao of Mozambique said he was not sure how many people were at the camp.

“What we have observed today [Tuesday] is that it is very quiet. I would not know how many people are at the camp because the municipality is the one that has the list and they are the ones that accept or turn people away from the camp,” said Juliao.

He said vouchers were not being distributed at the camp.

“We are giving them out at Diakonia in Durban,”  said Juliao.

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