Overview | Western Cape Government

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Overview

2008
(Department of Local Government, Western Cape Government)
The brutal xenophobic upsurge that began on 11 May 2008 and engulfed the Western Cape on 22 May 2008 has left about 37 500 internal refugees throughout South Africa. Of these approximately 20 000 were in the Western Cape. Since then the Western Cape government has been central to providing humanitarian relief, establishing security and mediating reintegration.

The mediation process in the Western Cape began on 26 May 2008. Based on feedback from the mediation teams deployed, there are groups at the camp sites who definitely want to be reintegrated. Part of the reintegration strategy has been a relocation plan to halls and community centres in close proximity to the communities where they have come from, in order to make the mediation and reintegration process easier. However, given the lack of homogeneity of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in camps sites, conflicts between camp nationalities, each with different agendas, has been a further challenge for reintegration.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has been working hard to dispel the high expectations that displaced foreign nationals have of the UN with regards to repatriation. It is expected that these efforts might result in greater co-operation from displaced foreign nationals with regards to mediation and integration efforts.

Currently, approximately 5 000 displaced persons have already been reintegrated. The number of IDPs in the province are standing at 5 857

As of 1 July 2008, the total number of IDPs in the Western Cape Province has dropped drastically from the approximately 20 000 that were initially displaced, now standing at 5 857. The chart below indicates the downward trend (indicated by the black trend line) in the total number of displaced. The number of displaced in the Cape Metropolitan District Municipality continues to fluctuate marginally (currently at 5 733), with most other districts having a negligible number of displaced, remaining fairly constant. Cape Winelands currently has a meagre 58 displaced, Overberg 55 and Eden as little as 11. These significant drops in the numbers of displaced in the District Municipalities outside the Cape Metropole have been explained by extremely well coordinated reintegration programmes. Both the West Coast and Central Karoo District Municipalities no longer having any IDPs, most of whom are reported to have successfully reintegrated back into communities.

Though the numbers of IDPs in the Cape Metropolitan region has dropped significantly and continues to show a decreasing trend since the initial displacement in late May 2008, the large majority of IDPs continue to reside in the Cape Metropole, mostly in tents in the 5 Mega Camps. Many believe that this trend can be explained by a number of IDPs voluntarily integrating back into communities. Community Halls and Faith Based Organisations (including Churches and Mosques) also reveal a gradually decreasing trend, which might be explained by the important role that Faith Based Organisations (FBOs) have been playing in assisting IDPs to integrate successfully into communities in the Western Cape, which has culminated in a partnership between Provincial Government and FBOs as part of a broader reintegration programme led by the Office of the Premier. The remainder of the displaced (Other) appears to be more variable without a clear trend, either residing in dormitories, police stations, refugee centres and private venues across the City.

The content on this page was last updated on 4 September 2013