To highlight the critical humanitarian and medical needs that exist in urban settings the world over, MSF presents "Urban Survivors," a multimedia project produced in collaboration with the NOOR photo agency and Darjeeling Productions.
Despite the fact that many Zimbabweans risk their lives to flee Zimbabwe, the South African government has historically characterized them as ‘voluntary economic migrants’ and aggressively deported them. Until recently, approximately 17,000 Zimbabweans were deported each month by South African authorities, according to United Nations and South African Department of Home Affairs figures.
As a result of its worst cholera epidemic in recent memory, Zimbabwe declared a national emergency in early December. Cholera rapidly spread throughout Zimbabwe’s provinces and then into neighboring countries, particularly South Africa. According to the South African Department of Health, there have been more than 900 suspected cases. Recently South African authorities in the northern province of Limpopo declared Vhembe district, which borders Zimbabwe, a disaster area.
One month ago, violence against foreign nationals in South Africa erupted in parts of Gauteng, Western Cape, and Kwa-Zulu Natal Province, leading to the displacement of more than 80,000 people across the country, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Initially, tens of thousands of people fled to police stations, community halls, churches, and mosques to seek shelter and safety. For three weeks, they lived in poor conditions and relied primarily on a patchwork of assistance from private individuals and organizations.
In response to recent outbreaks of violence against migrants in Johannesburg, South Africa, MSF is currently providing emergency medical care for wounded people seeking shelter in police stations, community halls, and other locations to which they have fled for safety.
In December 2007, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) began providing essential health services to Zimbabwean migrants in the South African border town of Musina, Limpopo province, and in central Johannesburg. It is estimated that more than one million Zimbabweans live in South Africa.