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UNICEF/South Africa/2008/Schermbrucker
© UNICEF/South Africa/2008/Schermbrucker

The outbreak of cholera which started in Zimbabwe in August 2008 has since spread to neighboring countries, namely Mozambique, South Africa and Botswana. The outbreak in South Africa is directly linked to the broader humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe and forms only one aspect of the crisis. Many Zimbabwean nationals seek asylum in South Africa and this movement of people has helped spread the cholera across the border.

The situation is exacerbated by the clandestine movement of illegal immigrants into South Africa and the inadequate water and sanitation facilities and poor hygiene at the “show ground”, a temporary processing centre (open space) established by South African  authorities to review the cases of asylum seekers. Children form part of the increasing number of migrant flows and this is an important concern to UNICEF. Hundreds of Zimbabweans including men, spend days and nights on end at the show ground under very poor conditions waiting to have their cases reviewed. There are no adequate measures in place for the protection of women and children against abuse and exploitation.

Take Note

While the cholera outbreak has caught world attention, there is a wider humanitarian crisis unfolding in the region. Children form part of the increasing number of migrant flows into South Africa. A recent study commissioned jointly by Save the Children Alliance, International Rescue Committee and UNICEF found that children arrive from Zimbabwe in South Africa where they have no shelter, where language is a barrier to their integration and schooling and where, without legal status in the country, their access to basic social services are very limited. They are also exposed to abuse and exploitation and are under constant threat of being arrested and deported. Many children reported having been physically abused, including sexual abuse while crossing the border. Ninety two percent (92%) of the unaccompanied children interviewed in Musina as part of the study live on the streets or in dangerous places such as taxi ranks, bushes and at the border between Musina and Beit Bridge, with all the consequences these places imply for their physical and psychological well being. There are many unaccompanied children, especially girls working in the farming areas. They are exposed to harassment, sexual exploitation, rape and illnesses. The study also found considerable number of single young mothers with babies, with insufficient access to food for themselves and their children. 

Take Action

Your donation will help:

  • procure hygiene kits to meet the immediate needs of women and children. 
  • provide access to safe drinking water, hygiene items and improved sanitation facilities. 
  • increase the knowledge of how to prevent the further spread of the disease in the most the at-risk communities.
  • oprerationalise family tracing and reunification systems to facilitate rapid family reunification of unaccompanied migrant children.
  • to establish learning opportunities in child friendly spaces  
  • provide more humane integrated services and more effective protection and prosecution to prevent rape of  women and children.
  • provide opportunities for play for infants and toddlers in camps of asylum seekers and provide appropriate outreach for mothers.

Make a difference

  • R0.55 buys one water treatment powder sachet, to make water safe for use.
  • R18.86 buys one bucket with a lid and tap, necessary for the storing and transportation of safe, clean water.
  • R27 buys one plastic jerry can and one plastic cup, necessary for the transporting and drinking of safe, clean water.
  • R200 buys one carton of soap which is crucial for ensuring that people are able to wash their hands effectively.
  • R482 buys family water kits for 5 families.
  • R555 buys one 45kg drum of calcium hypochlorite, vital for water purification.
  • Water bladders, which are crucial for storing large quantities of water that has been made safe, cost between R 14,228.00 and R24,498.00 depending on the size (5,000 litres or 10,000 litres)

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