The Citizen, 6 August 2007

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The UN High Commission for Refugees maintains South Africaís political leadership is taking practical steps to combat xenophobia following another round of attacks on Somalis in Eastern Cape. A representative of the Somali Association of South Africa said close on 100 Somalis have been maimed or killed in xenophobic attacks since 1997. Following the latest attacks in KwaNobuhle township outside Port Elizabeth, the Commission said the countryís leaders are going beyond verbal calls for tolerance of refugees. They are looking at ways to promote integration and co-existence, the commissionís Pumla Rulashe said. The commission has welcomed the increasing visibility of South African leaders opposing xenophobia but acknowledges more action is needed. Information on the plight, rights and obligations of refugees is fundamental to public awareness initiatives. Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has approved a strategy for local integration of refugees and asylum seekers prepared by her departmentís Refugee Affairs Directorate. Next is a pilot project in Eastern and Western Cape where xenophobic incidents have increased sharply over the last two years. The plan will address conflict resolution involving elected Somali refugees and their involvement in local business organisations.