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‘Displaced foreigners showing signs of post-traumatic stress’

Thousands of foreigners sought refuge at camps following the recent flare up of xenophobia attacks.

FILE: A little girl waits for her mother to receive supplies at a camp for displaced foreign nationals in Primrose on 18 April 2015. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Concerns have been raised about the psychological effects of the recent xenophobic attacks on foreigners in South Africa.

Doctors Without Borders on Monday said many foreigners living at displacement camps in Durban were showing signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Last month, thousands of foreigners sought refuge at camps set up by government following the flare up of xenophobia around the country.

The government and police managed to bring xenophobia under control but there are concerns about the effects of the violence.

Psychologist Gail Womersley said displaced foreigners were struggling to recover from their trauma.

"People are clearly scared; I've seen children who are wetting the bed at the age of 9 or 10."

On Monday there were more than 500 people still housed at the only remaining displacement centre in Chatsworth.

Many of them were unable to return to their countries of origin due to political unrest.

LISTEN: The social implications of xenophobic violence

Meanwhile, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba on Wednesday said an estimated 3,700 foreigners had voluntarily left the country in the wake of the recent xenophobic attacks.

Hundreds opted to be repatriated back to their home countries.

Gigaba said he expected many of them would return.

"That's why it was so important for us to take the biometric data and register them."

At the same time, Home Affairs is finalising a green paper on International Migration and preparing to introduce legislation for a Border Management Agency this financial year.

Gigaba expected the proposed agency to come into effect by 2017.