THE DISPLACED CALL FOR THE UN’S HELP

The Times, 3 June 2008

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Foreigners in camps in the Western Cape are demanding intervention by the United Nations because the South African government has failed them. Representatives from camps, including Soetwater, Bellville and the Youngsfield military base, addressed the media yesterday, saying the government has no interest in their safety or future. Serge Bami Samba, from the DR Congo, representing the Soetwater camp, said: “UN, please come before the genocide. “The UN has the skills to remedy the situation and they can’t step in unless the South African government invites them. The South African government is more concerned with saving face than saving people.” In a joint statement, leaders of the refugees said: “On June 2, 2008, two of our brothers from Rwanda had gone back to Samora and Philippi to fetch their remaining stuff. The locals attacked them. “One had a finger cut off and another was seriously injured in the head. They came back to Youngsfield military base badly hurt and were taken to hospital for further treatment.” Hussein Suge, from Somalia, said xenophobia was previously a feeling, but now it is a war. He said: “It’s a war and they are using pangas and heavy weapons. It’s a country at war with other nations ... all the foreign nationals in South Africa. “At this juncture, it is proven that without UN intervention, we are still at a very high risk of being attacked again .” Meanwhile, in Gauteng, xenophobic victims were getting used to their new makeshift camps . The camps have been erected in various areas around the province. Charles Thom, a Malawian who has been relocated to the Country View settlement in Midrand, said: “We are worried about the hygiene and a shortage of food .” But Thom said he felt they were better off in Midrand than in the townships. He said they hoped the Malawian ambassador would come to their aid. Morris Sono, head of security at the camp, said security measures were being put in place. “There will be a fence built very soon so that the local residents will not be disturbed by the site,” said Sono, responding to an outcry from residents in the area to the camps being erected close to their homes. City Power was preparing to connect electricity prior to the arrival of the scores of foreigners who have been displaced The 400 displaced people in the Corlett Gardens settlement, north of Johannesburg, had already created a couple of headaches. The site manager from the provincial disaster management team, yesterday told The Times, the group, the majority men from shelters in Alexandra and the Bramley police station, that: “When I speak to them, some undermine me, calling me umlungu. It is really difficult to get things done.” The group has been living in tents on the piece of land since Saturday, without ablution or cooking facilities. Yesterday an company contracted to provide electrical connections, were still busy installing lampposts, light fittings and cables.