South Africa: New Home for Hundreds of Cape Town Refugees

Refugees occupying the Central Methodist Mission Church on Greenmarket Square were moved using buses to a new location on Thursday

A 23km journey, to a new home.

That was the translocation made by about 500 refugees on Thursday afternoon after police escorted them out of the Central Methodist Church on Greenmarket Square in the Cape Town CBD.

The refugees were transported in buses along the N1 highway, which was deserted due to the Covid-19 lockdown, to a new site off Voortrekker Road in Belville.

There, massive marquees had been set up by the national Department of Public Works, on City of Cape Town land.

SA Human Rights Commissioner Chris Nissen told News24: "We've been monitoring the situation of the past four-five months, and have been part of discussions trying to resolve this situation.

"The people are being moved because of Covid-19."

Police confirmed this was done under the national state of disaster mandate, at national level.

Nissen gave the assurance: "There is water and sanitation (at the new site)" and the refugees would be able to remain there "until the lockdown is over".

He said the move had been carefully organised and coordinated, and SAPS and partner agencies had done "an excellent job".

He believed it had been essential "to make sure the people are protected from themselves" and "to save lives".

This was a reference to the need for physical distancing, which the cramped church quarters had not afforded the group.

Sources in various state agencies involved were unanimous that every attempt had been made to conduct the move with courtesy and dignity.

Source: News24

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