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Terrorism & Security

South African authorities prepare to deport hundreds of immigrant workers

The deportations follow a string of xenophobic attacks. The crackdown began on as South Africa moved to convene negotiations between Zimbabwe's warring political parties.

By Huma Yusuf / July 23, 2008

South African police on Tuesday forcefully evicted hundreds of immigrants from temporary camps in Johannesburg. The immigrants, who now face deportation, were earlier targeted in xenophobic attacks. Their plight signals the fallout of rising food prices and the worsening economic conditions in South Africa and the region.

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According to the South African daily Mail and Guardian, those immigrants who had not properly registered were being evicted from refugee camps and taken to repatriation centers, from where they would be deported to their home countries.

People who did not sign up for the temporary ID cards, valid for six months, or did not have legal papers would be deported, said Cleo Mosana [a Department of Home Affairs spokesperson].... She said the department would still allow people to sign the forms for the temporary IDs on Tuesday.
Approximately 850 of the 1,800 residents at the camp had apparently signed up for the ID cards....
Earlier, those foreigners who had not signed up for the temporary IDs were taken out of the camps in trucks bound for the Lindela repatriation centre to be deported.
Mosana told the Mail & Guardian Online at the time that people would be "sorted into categories" at Lindela. "All documents will be checked for authenticity and legitimacy. Those with asylum papers and refugee status will be allowed to stay."

But the Mail and Guardian report adds that at least one shelter, the Glenanda refugee camp, is expected to close within the next two weeks, leaving even those immigrants who have procured temporary identity cards to make their own arrangements for the future.

Immigrants had been shifted to temporary refugee camps and shelters after being targeted in xenophobic attacks in May, during which more than 60 foreigners were killed and tens of thousands others left the country, according to the BBC.

The Christian Science Monitor reported that the attacks in May were motivated by rising food prices and worsening economic conditions that made South African nationals resentful of immigrants who have enjoyed modest financial success in their country.

While few predicted the anti-immigrant attacks, the warning signs have been present for years. Attacks against Somali shopkeepers alone have led to hundreds of deaths in sporadic violence since 1994, say Somali groups. The government doesn't track attacks based on national origin.
Anger about the government's inability to create jobs or to deliver electricity or drinking water to burgeoning townships has spilled over into open protests, complete with roadblocks, burning tires, and residents wielding clubs. Now, angry citizens have taken their frustrations out those who arrived in South Africa to make a little money, and succeeded.

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