In Summary
  • And according to the UN, some 800 people, mainly from Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, have sought safety in community halls in Katlehong.
  • South Africa, the continent's second largest economy, is a major destination for other African migrants. But they are often targeted by some locals who blame them for a lack of jobs.

Geneva,

At least 1,500 foreign nationals have been forced to flee their homes in South Africa amid a surge in deadly xenophobic violence in the country, the United Nations said Friday.

The UN refugee agency voiced alarm at the violence, which reportedly killed at least 12 people -- both foreign nationals and South Africans -- in and around Johannesburg earlier this month in a spate of attacks against foreigners fuelled by soaring unemployment and poverty.

"At least 1,500 foreign nationals, predominantly migrants but also refugees and asylum-seekers, have been forced to flee their homes," UNHCR spokesman Charlie Yaxley told reporters in Geneva.

INCREASE

He said the agency's staff had in recent weeks received "a significant increase in calls to our telephone hotlines, with people reporting that their homes and businesses have been looted, buildings and property have been set on fire."

They were also receiving reports of "increased gang activity on the streets and rising incidents of sexual and gender-based violence," he said.

South Africa, the continent's second largest economy, is a major destination for other African migrants. But they are often targeted by some locals who blame them for a lack of jobs.

"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," Yaxley said.
Over the past two weeks, some 500 Nigerians have been repatriated amid the attacks in Johannesburg, including many directed at Nigerian-owned businesses and properties.

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