Thursday, July 24, 2008

Refugees staying in Soetwater Refugee Camp- dissatisfied about poor living conditions

By Cindy Witten
24 July 2008

Somalians, Zimbabweans, Sudanesians, Angolans and Ethiopians, escape the horrifying circumstances in their homelands and flock to South Africa to seek refuge, with the hope of making a better life. But all they managed, was to find themselves in unfortunate surroundings.

After visiting the Soetwater Refugee camp near Kommetjie, it was clear to see why the refugees were unhappy about their living conditions.
Along the roads at the Soetwater Recreational site were rows of mobile toilets and tents. Hardly any privacy is given to these people, because the facilities provided are intended for hundreds of immigrants to share.

The tents are cramped and crowded with all belongings stacked in high piles wherever an open space can be found. Many mattresses are lined up on canvas sheets on the damp ground. The refugees were not supplied with blankets, and thus have to cover themselves with jackets when sleeping. Even the men complained about the cold Cape Town weather.
“It’s too cold. At night it’s cold. We have nothing yet. Not even a blanket. We just use our jackets. Not really blankets.”

I spoke to a Somalian woman, who is a mother to five children. She told me that her children often fell ill and that the provided health services were poor.
“We get very cold, and our kiddies, they get the flu and diarrhoea. They get sick always.”


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