Refugees at the Bellville camp fear for their health more than a month after the national Department of Public Works unilaterally withdrew sanitation facilities. Picture: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency (ANA)
Refugees at the Bellville camp fear for their health more than a month after the national Department of Public Works unilaterally withdrew sanitation facilities. Picture: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency (ANA)

Cape refugees forced to use 'unsanitary methods' to wash amid sanitation issues

By Mwangi Githahu Time of article published Dec 22, 2020

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Cape Town - Hundreds of refugees at the Bellville camp fear for their health more than a month after the national Department of Public Works (DPW) unilaterally withdrew sanitation facilities.

At the time the DPW accused the City of refusing to carry out its mandate to provide shelter and sanitation services at the site.

On Monday, one of the refugee leaders, Papy Sukami, said: “Now, 10 months after we left Greenmarket Square, the situation is desperate at both the Paint City site in Bellville and here where I am at the Wingfield site in Kensington.

“At Paint City the water and sanitation facilities are not enough for all the people there. Refugees are using makeshift and unsanitary methods to wash themselves, their clothes and their cooking utensils.

“Here at Kensington, where I am, things are not much better and with donors such as Gift of the Givers no longer bringing food, people, especially children, are going hungry. We have been forgotten,” said Sukami.

Mayco member for community services and health Zahid Badroodien said: “Sanitation is presently provided by the Human Rights Commission at the Paint City site. The City still provides sanitation at Wingfield.”

Badroodien said: “After the DPW unilaterally withdrew sanitation facilities at Paint City they were issued with a compliance notice for contravention of the City's environmental health by-law.

“In terms of the Wingfield site, the City’s participation includes the ongoing cost it is incurring for marquee tents and amenities, which was premised on the commitment made by the Home Affairs ministry,” said Badroodien.

“This was because after the lockdown refugees would either voluntarily reintegrate by returning to the communities where they were residing in October last year, before they took up occupation of the UNHCR offices, or the DHA would repatriate them to their country of origin.

“The City continues to call for an expedited conclusion to this matter by the DHA as mandated by the Refugees Act,” said Badroodien.

Cape Argus

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