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Lockdown: Still no accommodation for foreign nationals living in CT church

The Western Cape government and the City of Cape Town indicated that they were looking for space to house men, women and children who were camping in the city since October.

FILE: Refugees living in Cape Town spent the night at the Central Methodist Mission Church after clashes with police during their removal from the UNHCR's offices on 30 October 2019. Picture: Kayleen Morgan/EWN

CAPE TOWN – There was still uncertainty over the fate of foreign nationals living at a church in Cape Town’s CBD and outside a police station.

The Western Cape government and the City of Cape Town indicated that they were looking for space to house men, women and children who were camping in the city since October.

But it appeared the search to find a suitable site failed.

Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said this week that there needed to be re-integration and if that failed, there was no option but to repatriate them.

The City of Cape Town said on Thursday that foreign nationals were initially meant to move to an area identified by national government, but were later told it was unavailable.

The search for a secondary site was currently underway. There were more than 300 people inside the church and about 200 living on the sidewalks on city pavements.

“We had to find emergency space for them, basically what it means is tents [and] we doing the final paperwork,” said Premier Alan Winde.

One of the refugee leaders Papy Sukami said he was concerned that refugees were still outside on the streets during this lockdown.

He said while he remained hopeful, he would only believe it when it actually happened.

“Why are there hundreds of empty community halls but they say they don’t have a place for us. They’re just exposing us to be arrested, this is completely wrong,” he said.

The Home Affairs Department said more than 90% of refugees come from the DRC, 7% from Burundi and the rest Somalia and other countries.

To track the latest developments around the coronavirus both in South Africa and abroad, click on this live status report from Strategix.

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