South Africa

South Africa: Youngsfield closed, safety site closures proceeding

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The safety site at Youngsfield military base has been officially closed. Blue Waters near Muizenberg is scheduled to close this Friday, 31 October.

There are 147 people remaining at Youngsfield. Some have entered the site in the past week in the expectation of financial assistance. Most of the remaining people have been given many opportunities to relocate and have to date declined the assistance.

At the start of the closure process there were 608 people in Youngsfield of which the majority have relocated.

All people who want to repatriate, will have to relocate to communities first. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) will process their repatriation applications from there. The UNHCR has been assisting government since the outbreak of violence and looting on 22 May this year. They have assisted those who wish to repatriate or reintegrate into communities, and have provided other assistance such as tents and technical expertise.

Once Blue Waters is closed, the provision of food, shelter and other services to displaced people by government will cease. The fact that the sites will close and dates for closure have been communicated repeatedly in personal meetings with displaced people, in pamphlets and through news media. The disaster which led to the establishment of the safety sites is over and the five month long process is wrapping up. The safety sites were never designed as a permanent solution.

From an initial total of some 20 000 displaced people in five safety sites, community halls and other private shelters, only approximately 1 100 people remain, with the majority being single men. There are no displaced people in community halls.

The vast majority of the displaced people have made use of various forms of assistance to move out and to return to their countries or communities. This includes repatriation or reintegration assistance (rental assistance from the UNHCR, a food parcel, and transport to communities). A minority has refused all assistance.

Media queries:

Dr Hildegarde Fast, Provincial Government, Cell: 082 441 2149

Pieter Cronje, City of Cape Town, Cell: 082 465 4965

Issued by: City of Cape Town