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Somalis camp outside Lindela

The Times
Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Refugees evicted from Pretoria’s Klerksoord shelter yesterday camped outside the Lindela repatriation centre last night as they were not allowed into the facility.

  • Klerksoord refugee camp closed
  • A group of about 100 Somali refugees, who fled to the Klerksoord shelter in Pretoria during the xenophobic violence that engulfed the country last May, were dropped off by police at the repatriation centre at about 6pm yesterday evening.

    They were denied access to the centre outside Krugersdorp, west of Johannesburg, as they were in possession of legal documents that allowed them to remain in South Africa. This means that they do not qualify for deportation.

    Many in the group, that includes about 15 children, said they want to return to their home country but could not do so on their own as they cannot afford the passage.

    Group member Abdulla Abbass said: "We told them we want to go back to Somalia. We would rather even go to Zimbabwe than stay in South Africa."

    "We can’t go back by ourselves because we don’t have any money."

    The United Nations Refugee Agency’s Monique Ekoko told The Times that she was inside Lindela meeting with officials from the South African Department of Home Affairs to discuss the next step for the refugees camping outside.

    Somali Abdul Ali said the group was hungry and cold.

    "Last night was very cold. We haven’t eaten since yesterday. We feel we have been treated like animals," he said.