Wednesday, May 02, 2007

South Africa sees huge increase in refugees

By Tichaona Sibanda
1 May 2007

There are reports South African authorities are being overwhelmed by the mass new arrivals of Zimbabwean refugees fleeing the current crackdown by Robert Mugabe’s security forces.

According to Solomon Chikohwero, vice chairman of Zimbabwe’s civic society organisations in Johannesburg, the latest victims of the turbulent situation back home have stretched the resources offered by the South African government.

‘In the last two month alone, over 50 000 people are reported to have crossed over from Zimbabwe to South Africa. The system of dealing with refugees here was not meant for such high numbers. Just last year, Home Affairs officials used to deal with about 20 to 30 cases of new arrivals each week but now they are dealing with over 2000 people every week,’ Chikohwero said.

Most of those who fled the country in the last six weeks have urgently been seeking medical treatment after being refused care in Zimbabwe following violent attacks on opposition activists.

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