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Cablegate: Update On Civilian Displacement From Xenophobic Violence In

R 261526Z JUN 08
FM AMCONSUL DURBAN
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 1304
INFO AMEMBASSY PRETORIA
AMEMBASSY BUJUMBURA
AMEMBASSY DAR ES SALAAM
SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
AMEMBASSY KIGALI
AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
CIA WASHINGTON DC
NSC WASHINGTON DC
DIA WASHINGTON DC
AMCONSUL DURBAN

UNCLAS DURBAN 000033

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SF PGOV PHUM PREF CG BY RW ABLD
SUBJECT: UPDATE ON CIVILIAN DISPLACEMENT FROM XENOPHOBIC VIOLENCE IN
DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA

REF: (A) DURBAN 26; (B) STATE 61855

This cable is not/not for internet distribution.

SUMMARY:

1. (U) On 20 June, Pol/Econoff visited sites throughout the
greater Durban area hosting displaced persons from last month's
wave of xenophobic violence to assess the current levels of
displacement and identify any immediate humanitarian needs.
Hundreds of the original 1750 displaced persons in recent weeks
have returned to Durban area townships or their countries of
origin, while others remain sheltered in churches because of the
threat of violence against foreigners in townships and the cost
of renting new homes. The churches hosting the displaced had
sufficient food, water and sanitation, but were grappling with
longer-term housingQanninQf the displaced don't return
before the end of the month. Utilizing PRM funding (ref b), we
have provided clothing and gas cylinders for cooking for the
displaced around Durban. End Summary.

MORE THAN HALF OF THE DISPLACED HAVE RETURNED:

2. (U) On 20 June, Pol/Econoff met with the Diakonia Council of
Churches, a local faith based organization that coordinated much
of Durban's relief response to the wake of the May/June
xenophobic violence, and visited churches and police stations
that once hosted a combined 1750 displaced persons. Initial
estimates of 5,000 displaced (ref a) may have been overstated or
indicate that a number of people returned to their home
countries or back to their neighborhoods early on in during the
crisis. Since the height of the displacement in early June,
more than half of the people, primarily male economic migrants
from Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Tanzania, have returned
to their countries of origin or Durban townships. According to
the Diakonia Council and several local church pastors, hundreds
of male economic migrants were fearful of another wave of
xenophobic attacks and took advantage of free transportation to
repatriate to their countries of origin. Others chose to stay in
the Durban area to reclaim their property and resume employment.

3. (U) Several hundred displaced persons, primarily refugees
and economic migrants from Congo-Kinshasa, remain sheltered in
Durban area churches because of the threat of renewed xenophobic
violence. According to a local church pastor, many of the
Congolese are too afraid to return to Durban townships. Last
week, a Congolese man was attacked and hospitalized after trying
to reclaim his property. A displaced Congolese woman also
claimed a mob had threatened to kill her if she attempted to
return home. Other displaced persons are deterred from returning
to townships because of the cost of renting new property. Many
of the displaced persons lost their homes and personal
possessions during the violence and lack the income to rent a
new home for their families. At all displacement sites visited,
almost all of the men were away at their jobs or seeking new
employment.

RELIEF SUPPLIES SUFFICIENT; PRM FUNDING UTILIZED:

4. (U) Humanitarian commodities such as food, water, and
blankets were not immediately needed at the sites visited. The
Diakonia Council and local church pastors stated they had
received plenty of commodities from local residents and NGOs.
Durban's municipal relief agency also provided portable toilets
and showers to bolster sanitation facilities. The biggest
challenge was finding longer-term shelter for those unwilling to
return. Local churches claimed they could not keep their current
caseloads for much longer because many of their other programs
needed the space and resources currently occupied by the
displaced. Many of the churches were trying to work with the
municipal relief agency to find other institutions that could
provide temporary shelter.

5. (U) Utilizing a PRM contribution (ref b) to support the
immediate humanitarian assistance for the victims of xenophobic
violence in South Africa, the US Consulate General in Durban has
provided clothing for displaced Tanzanians who lost their
personal possessions during the wave of attacks/threats. The
Consulate has also delivered gas cylinders used for cooking to
the local Salvation Army sheltering displaced persons.

COMMENT:

6. (U) The current Qplacement situation highlights that
xenophobic violence remains a perceived threat in Durban that
could potentially inhibit some affected populations from
returning to their neighborhoods for some time to come. The
situation also highlights the strength of Durban's civil
society. Local churches and organizations quickly mobilized to
provide sufficient food and protection for some 1750 people
without much assistance from the local or national government.

YOUNG

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