UNHCR condemns recurring xenophobic violence in South Africa

A protester holds an anti-xenophobia placard./ Getty

The United Nations refugee agency says it is deeply concerned by recurring violence against foreign nationals, including refugees and asylum-seekers, in South Africa.

At least 12 people, including both foreign nationals and South Africans, were killed in the latest spate of violence the country, mainly around Johannesburg.

UNHCR said in a statement that at least 1,500 foreign nationals, predominantly migrants but also refugees and asylum-seekers, have been forced to flee their homes.

The agency said that some 800 people, mostly from Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, have sought safety in community halls in Katlehong. Most of them have expressed a desire to return to their home countries, saying they no longer feel safe in South Africa.

UNHCR said that 73 Malawians, 138 Mozambicans, 314 Nigerians and 72 Zimbabweans have decided to return already.

The agency called upon authorities to take measure to ensure people’s safety and welfare.

“No effort should be spared to quell the violence and enforce rule of law. Those responsible for committing criminal acts must be held to account in court,” the statement said.

UNHCR also called for the implementation of the recently adopted National Action Plan to Combat Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.

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