ACTION Support Centre visits displaced refugees at Lindela Repatriation Centre in Krugersdorp

A group of predominantly refugee women, men and children have been staying at Lindela Repatriation Centre in Krugersdorp following an incident in October 2019 were they were forcibly removed from the front space of the UNHCR offices in Pretoria. The refugees include nationals from Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia. Representatives of the refugees claimed that they camped in front of the UNHCR offices because the local communities they were staying in were no longer safe for them. A court order was obtained by the proprietors of the space the refugees were occupying, ordering the refugees to immediately vacate the area. The Council of Churches intervened and negotiated for the refugees to be temporarily sheltered at Lindela Repatriation Centre. However, days have turned into months and the refugees are still at Lindela.

The ACTION Support Centre therefore assembled a team and visited the group on the 20th of February as a way of exploring ways to assist them.  Lindela is a repatriation centre and is not mandated nor designed to shelter refugees. The refugees are demanding to be placed in what they describe as safe places as they fear facing further violence and victimization if they go back into the communities they came from. The situation at Lindela as well as the conditions is not ideal especially for children, who make up most of the numbers. According to statistics there are 121 women, 128 children and 5 men, making a total of 254 refugees. The ACTION Support Centre in collaboration with its Partners is in the process of formulating programs that will see some of the individuals receive counselling and psychosocial support services. Focus will also be on the children as a way of ensuring that they have access to basic health and education services.