UNHCR concerned over recurring attacks on foreigners in S. Africa


The United States High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Saturday voiced grave concern over the recurring violent attacks against foreign nationals, including refugees and asylum-seekers, in South Africa.

The agency said it has received a number of calls from affected refugees and asylum-seekers mainly from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia and Somalia who are too afraid to return to their homes due to the outbreak of violence.

Reportedly some foreign owned shops have also been looted and destroyed, the agency said in a statement emailed to Xinhua.

South Africa’s recently adopted National Action Plan to address xenophobia needs to be put into action to prevent and address future incidents, Leonard Zulu, UNHCR Deputy Director for Southern Africa, said.

“Regardless of status, the human rights of all persons residing in South Africa must be respected and law and order must prevail,”said Zulu.

South Africa has been hit by a new spate of violence directed against foreign nationals in recent days, during which foreign-owned shops were looted and foreign truck drivers were attacked in parts of South Africa, particularly in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Durban.

The violence led to clashes between foreigners and locals, leaving at least 10 people killed, two of them were foreign nationals, according to official figures.

In an address to the nation on Thursday, President Cyril Ramaphosa said South Africa will not hesitate to act to uphold the law and ensure order and stability where people act with criminal intent, irrespective of their nationality.

Ramaphosa said his country values its relations with other African countries.

UNHCR welcomes the public expressions from the South African government and civil society calling for peaceful coexistence and harmony with foreign nationals in the country, Zulu said.

South Africa is host to some 274,000 refugees and asylum-seekers, according to UNHCR.



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