By A Correspondent- Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has decried the plight of migrants in South Africa, whom it says were being denied healthcare among other necessities.
In a recent MSF’s Limpopo mobility survey report, it stated that denial of access to healthcare services in South Africa was common.
The report reveals a range of challenges faced by migrants on their journeys to and from South Africa, including high rates of sexual violence in border towns and communities, long stays in detention in South Africa for Zimbabweans, language barriers to healthcare access for central African migrants and more.
The report was released on Saturday in commemoration of the annual Migrants Day, which falls on December 18 each year.
The project co-ordinator for the MSF migration project in Beitbridge, Rinako Uenishi, urged authorities to assist migrants who face dehumanising challenges.
“Having arrived at these insights, we share our concerns with authorities to advocate for better migrant conditions,” Uenishi
“Our interviews revealed that many migrants spend protracted periods in detention facilities, a quarter of respondents had spent more than a year locked up, with limited access to healthcare and basic needs. This is a real problem, both from a medical and human rights perspective.”
The MSF survey found that respondents spent time in more than two facilities on average, with living conditions in police stations reported as being poorer than prisons and the Lindela Repatriation Centre.
Only 26% of the interviewees had been tested for HIV and 9,4% for tuberculosis, most in Lindela or prison.
It said in police stations, the rates are much lower.
“There are some reports of transactional sex and forced sex in certain facilities, yet respondents reported very poor access to condoms in detention, especially in Lindela,” Uenishi said.
MSF regional migration referent Vinayak Bhardwaj said: “Many of those whose papers expire before they are able to renew endure inhumane and often illegal conditions of arrest and detention prior to deportation, heightening the risks of contagion during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Bhardwaj pointed out that the MSF team in Beitbridge reports an 80% positivity rate among returning residents who are tested for COVID-19 at the border.-newsday