- Not fewer than 12 people have been killed as a result of the xenophobic attacks in South Africa, UNHCR has confirmed
- The UN refugee agency added that at least 1,500 foreign nationals, including refugees and asylum seekers, have also been forced to flee their homes
- UNHCR, therefore, called on the South African government to take every possible measure to ensure people’s safety and welfare and stop the recurring attacks
Not fewer than 12 people have been killed and at least 1,500 foreign nationals, including refugees and asylum seekers, forced to flee their homes due to the recurring xenophobic attacks in South Africa, the UN has said.
UNHCR, the UN refugee agency in a press briefing by its spokesperson Charlie Yaxley, on Friday, September 20, expressed deep concern about the recurring violence.
Yaxley also confirmed that homes and businesses of foreign nationals have been looted and buildings and property set on fire.
He said many refugees in the Southern African country are now afraid to go to work due to the ongoing violent attacks.
"At least twelve people, including both foreign nationals and South Africans, have reportedly been killed since the onset of the recent violence.
"At least 1,500 foreign nationals, predominantly migrants but also refugees and asylum-seekers, have been forced to flee their homes.
"Our staff are receiving a significant increase in calls to our telephone hotlines in recent weeks, with people reporting that their homes and businesses have been looted, buildings and property have been set on fire, increased gang activity on the streets and rising incidents of sexual and gender-based violence. Many refugees are now too afraid to go to work or carry out their day-to-day trade, despite having no alternative sources of income," he said.
The international agency said many refugees are now willing to return home as they no longer feel safe in South Africa.
"Some 800 people, mostly from Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, have sought safety in community halls in Katlehong. Many wish to return home, saying they no longer feel safe in South Africa. Reports indicate that 73 Malawians, 138 Mozambicans, 314 Nigerians and 72 Zimbabweans have decided to return already," the UNHCR spokesperson said.
Yaxley, therefore, called on the South African government"to take every possible 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."
He added that the country's recently adopted National Action Plan to Combat Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance must now be swiftly implemented to stem the tide of violence.
The UNHCR said it is currently partnering with civil society groups to provide relief items, emergency shelter, psycho-social care, legal assistance and support with the recovery of lost livelihoods.
Meanwhile, Legit.ng previously reported that the federal government had repeatedly condemned the renewed attacks on Nigerians and other foreign nationals and their businesses in South Africa which had led to the loss of lives and properties worth millions of Naira.
In a fresh communique by spokesperson to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ferdinand Nwonye, the Nigerian government said it was engaging the relevant South African authorities via the Nigerian High Commission in Pretoria, Consulate General in Johannesburg and Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abuja to ensure that definite measures are put in place to curtail the unfortunate attacks.
However, owing to the tension created by the attacks, the federal government advised Nigerians to avoid travelling to high risk and volatile areas until the situation is brought under control.
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