“Try being in my mind for 20 seconds” – stories from migrant journeys
The following stories, illustrated by South African artist Balekane Legoabe, give us a glimpse into the emotional and psychological experience of migration to and within South Africa.
To better understand the experiences of migrants and to provide medical assistance according to their needs, MSF staff in our migrant health projects in Tshwane, South Africa, and Beitbridge, Zimbabwe, have recorded hundreds of testimonies since 2019. Their stories very often detail harrowing journeys marked by intimidation, ill-treatment and abuse, including long periods in detention with poor access to healthcare services.
“Having gathered such testimonies with full consent, we share our concerns with authorities to advocate for better migrants’ conditions,” says Rinako Uenishi, Project Coordinator of the MSF Migration Project in Beitbridge.
Migrants returning to Zimbabwe carry hard stories of journeys to and within South Africa, but little else.
"The deportees, especially, are visibly exhausted when they arrive – their wide gazes reflect despair, extreme stress and boredom. They have been detained in prisons and police stations, but most embarked in South Africa’s notorious Lindela Repatriation Centre. 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," - Rinako Uenishi, Project Coordinator of the MSF Migration Project in Beitbridge
Health Gaps for Asylum Seekers and Migrantsmsf.org.za
“MSF has had operations in the region on both sides of the border off and on since 2000, but a clear and comprehensive view of migrants’ medical needs was lacking, and so a study was designed with the objective of highlighting the gaps in medical care received by migrants." - Rinako Uenishi, project coordinator for the MSF Migration Project in Beitbridge.Read more
Migrants Detained in masses in South Africamsf.org.za
“Many of those whose papers expire before they are able to renew them must endure inhumane and often illegal conditions of arrest and detention prior to deportation, heightening the risks of contagion during the COVID-19 pandemic.” - Vinayak Bhardwaj, Regional Migration Adviser for MSF in Southern AfricaRead more