UNICEF aids victims of xenophobic violence in South Africa

UNICEF aids victims of xenophobic violence in South Africa

Children in South Africa (file photo)
After ten days of violent attacks on foreign nationals, migrant workers, refugees and asylum seekers living in some of the country’s informal settlements, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is helping the hardest-hit cities of Johannesburg, Ekhuruleni and Tshwane to provide emergency relief supplies to vulnerable women and children.

After ten days of violent attacks on foreign nationals, migrant workers, refugees and asylum seekers living in some of the country’s informal settlements, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is helping the hardest-hit cities of Johannesburg, Ekhuruleni and Tshwane to provide emergency relief supplies to vulnerable women and children.

UNICEF has supplied adult hygiene kits, food, clothing and blankets for victims of the violence, most of whom fled their homes with few or no possessions. The aim is to ensure that babies, young children and mothers are adequately clothed, safely and appropriately fed and that basic hygiene is maintained.

Exact figures vary, but at least 17,000 people have been displaced in Gauteng Province alone, among them a minimum of 6,000 children and women. Western Cape and KwaZulu Natal Provinces are also reporting large numbers of displaced people.

UNICEF says the need for shelter has become more acute with temperatures plummeting to 5 degrees Celsius in Johannesburg and 10 degrees in the capital city of Tshwane, as South Africa heads into its winter season. Since many sites for displaced people are reporting shortages of supplies, the agency has committed to assist with fortified cereals for young children.

Later this week, UNICEF will also help its partners organize play groups and establish on-site crèches to provide traumatized children with a sense of stability in the midst of the current disruption.

Among the supplies delivered by UNICEF to the South African Red Cross and the City of Johannesburg Migration Desk are long-sleeve T-shirts for children, blankets, tins of powdered milk and infant-feeding cups.