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Camp Closure in South Africa Leaves Hundreds of Migrants Stranded


Over 800 migrants remain in Acasia camp, north of Pretoria, South Africa, three days after the government officially declared it closed. Doctors Without Borders (Medicins Sans Frontiers, MSF) says the migrants, many of whom have refugee status, are without food, water or electricity. Most of them come from Ethiopia, Burundi and Somalia.

Acasia camp is located in Gauteng Province. Alexis Moens is the MSF-Belgium project coordinator in Gauteng and Lopopo Province. He says the closure of Acasia and several other camps in recent weeks come despite court orders requiring that camps be kept open until the residents can be resettled. Some have taken offers by the government of about $55 US to leave the camps. He says “humanitarian aid is used more lure people out of the camps than for helping them.”

Moens says last weekend that resettlement talks failed between the refugees and local government officials in townships like Alexandra, where they had been living before the anti-foreign violence last May

Few have gone back.

“What we know,” he says, “is those that did not resettle are among the most vulnerable and those with no place to go or too afraid to resettle where they came from.”

Some have taken offers by the government of about $55 US dollars to leave the camps. He says “humanitarian aid is used more lure people out of the camps than for helping them.”

Moen says Doctors Without Borders is continuing to provide treatment for some migrants in the camps, like those who require continued treatment for tuberculosis. He said his group is working with other NGOs to provide food and water for the refugees.


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