Impoverished neighbors Mozambique and Malawi have organized the mass repatriation of their citizens from South Africa. By Tuesday, some 27,500 Mozambicans had returned home, although the influx was slowing from last week’s peak, officials said.
Nigeria demanded reparation for its citizens. Foreign Minister Ojo Madueke said late Tuesday that officials had compiled a list of Nigerians attacked or looted.
Antonio Marcos, among those receiving food and water at a camp near Mozambique’s capital, Maputo, said thugs in South Africa beat him. He said he left his brother behind in the panic.
“I don’t know whether he is still alive,” Marcos said.
Even Somalis, many of whom have been in South Africa for years, said they wanted to return to their lawless country, which doesn’t even have a functioning central government.
“I want to die in my country. It’s better than here,” said Hassan Abdullah Ahmed, who waited with hundreds of compatriots to be registered at the Soetwater camp, a popular picnic area that is one of six designated “safety sites” set up by Cape Town authorities.
Conditions at Soetwater were generally good, but refugees at some of the other sites complained of cold and unsanitary conditions. Human rights activists warned of a growing risk of disease and ailments such as diarrhea.
Farxiyo Ali Dhicisow, a Somali refugee who fled a nearby shanty town, said it was the second time her family had been attacked and their store looted.
“They took everything. I can’t go back there. I can’t,” she sobbed.
Some South Africans accuse foreigners of taking scarce jobs and houses. But political and security leaders say that much of the violence and the looting — especially in Cape Town — was the work of common criminals.
In the scenic fishing resort of Hout Bay, Zimbabweans who fled the economic meltdown and political repression at home and sell beadwork on the beach said they had sought sanctuary in a local church.
While they were in the church, thieves broke into their shack and stole their meager possessions.
Associated Press writer Emmanuel Camillo contributed to this report from Maputo, Mozambique.
A wave of violence against immigrants that left 56 people dead and forced 30,000 from their homes has subsided, South Africa's safety and security minister said. More »
In fact, there are some critics who believe the new South Africa may actually be in worse shape than it was under the apartheid regime. More »
"Some people have been staying in the open air with not sufficient blankets, so now the main medical concerns are respiratory tract infections and diarrhea," said one international aid worker. More »