XENOPHOBIA: DA URGES UNHCR TO BE INVOLVED

IOL/Sapa, 3 June 2008

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The DA has urged the United Nations High Commission for Refugees' (UNHCR) regional representative to help government assist victims of xenophobic attacks, the party said on Tuesday. "I have today (Tuesday) written a letter to the UNHRC's regional representative Sanda Kimbimbi to urgently approach the government of South Africa with an offer of direct assistance to resettle the persons displaced by xenophobic violence currently housed at temporary safety sites around the country as soon as possible," said the Democratic Alliance's Sandra Botha in a statement. Referring to her interaction with some of the victims, Botha said it was clear that they harboured a "deep" distrust of the South African government, in some cases refusing to speak to government officials. "Should the situation not be addressed urgently, it may be difficult to avert a humanitarian disaster and further hostility against foreign nationals in some of our communities," she added. Last month, she said she had written to President Thabo Mbeki requesting government to respond to the matter with the help of the UNHRC. She said she had not received a reply as yet.