Activists: Zim refugees in limbo in Messina

Up to 4 000 Zimbabwean refugees are “waiting in limbo” in Messina, activists said on Tuesday.

Gender Equity Commission head Nombuniso Gasa and Emily Wellman of the Institute for Democracy in South Africa (Idasa) were briefing the media following a visit to the refugees in the border town.

They had found “up to 4 000 people [who] are waiting in limbo, undocumented and confined, many sleeping on cardboard, the lucky ones with plastic sheeting to cover them as they sleep,” Wellman said.

Gasa is on the 14th day of a 21-day hunger strike to “help the people of Zimbabwe by highlighting the issue of hunger”.

“A lot of people in Zimbabwe go without food and they don’t have a choice. So some of us are choosing not to eat as an act of solidarity,” Gasa said.

She is the second person to go on hunger strike with the Save Zimbabwe Now organisation.

The first was global civil society organisation Civicus honorary president Kumi Naidoo, who ended his 21-day hunger strike on February 11, at which point Gasa began hers.

She will finish her hunger strike on March 3 when Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza is due to begin his.

Wellman said many others, among them Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, had gone on one day a week hunger strikes to demonstrate solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe.

Gasa said Save Zimbabwe Now was prepared to continue the hunger strikes.

“When it will stop, we don’t know,” she said.—Sapa

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