updated 6/1/2008 4:00:16 PM ET 2008-06-01T20:00:16

South African authorities on Sunday started moving nearly 10,000 foreigners displaced by xenophobic violence into organized camps in the Johannesburg area.

The immigrants have spent up to three weeks sleeping in community centers, churches, police stations and makeshift shelters.

Dozens of buses transported the foreigners to camps filled with tents provided by the U.N. refugee agency. Police prevented journalists from accessing one of the main new shelters situated between a small airfield and a golf course.

Local government spokesman Thabo Masebe said the new camps would have access to washing facilities, food and basic health care. He said the ultimate goal was to move the foreigners — many of them Zimbabwean — back into the communities that chased them out.

But the opposition Democratic Alliance said the sites were badly chosen. It said one resettlement center was in a notoriously violent area and wasn't safe. Other sites were in residential areas and risked fanning local resentment.

Authorities insist that the camps are an interim measure and the ultimate aim is to persuade foreigners to return to the communities they fled.

The anti-foreigner attacks erupted three weeks ago as a result of anger that foreigners were taking scarce housing and jobs from poor South Africans. They spread throughout the country, fanned by criminals intent on looting property. Relative calm has now been restored.

At least 62 people died, and 670 were injured, according to police figures. More than 1,300 people have been arrested.

There has been a mass exodus of Mozambicans and Malawians to their homelands, but migrants and refugees from Zimbabwe, Congo and Somalia say they do not have that option. Many foreigners are also married to South Africans and want to stay here.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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