Friday, October 17, 2008

Children fleeing starvation for jobs and food in SA

from SWradioafrica

In a new trend that speaks volumes about the humanitarian crisis on the ground in Zimbabwe, hungry children are joining the flood of exiles crossing the border into neighbouring South Africa, to escape certain starvation at home....

Bishop Paul Veryn, whose Central Methodist church in Johannesburg provides shelter and food to homeless immigrants, told Newsreel on Thursday that the church had seen an increase in the number of children of school going age arriving from Zimbabwe to seek shelter, after making the journey into South Africa on their own.

“Presently, my church is taking care of 150 children from Zimbabwe, who came to Johannesburg on their own and now attend our school,” the Bishop said.

Adult male Zimbabweans have over the years often traveled to South Africa in search of employment on the country’s sprawling farms, mines and factories, in order to support families back home. But the collapse of the Zimbabwean economy, as well as the recent upsurge in political violence, has seen this trend change with whole families leaving their homes for the relative security of South Africa.

But Veryn said it appeared the trend has now changed again, with young school children also joining the exodus. “This week alone, my church received 30 children escaping from abject poverty in Zimbabwe,” said Veryn. The Bishop explained the children are all deeply traumatised, as many were orphaned by the political violence that rocked the country this year. He also said some of the children left their homes “because they feel they are a burden to their families,” and added it is “devastating that these little children have to make this decision.”

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