U.S. “Deeply Concerned” About Xenophobic Attacks in SA

group saluteUnited States Ambassador Bruce Wharton says his country is “deeply concerned and distressed” about the attacks against foreigners taking place in KwaZulu-Natal and other parts of South Africa that have occurred in the last few weeks in South Africa and has added his voice to calls by the South African Government and civil society leaders in condemning the violence.

Speaking in a pre-recorded interview broadcast by ZBC TV’s “Diplomatic Encounters” broadcast on Thursday, Ambassador Wharton said the U.S. had not only spoken out from both its Embassy in Pretoria and Washington DC but had “actively sought to find ways to mitigate it and help South Africa build a nation that does not tolerate violence.”

“The U.S. is the largest single donor to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (ICRC), directly funding 40% of UNHCR’s budget in the Africa region and approximately 20% for the ICRC,” said Ambassador Wharton.

Last week the United States embassy in Pretoria released a statement condemning the violence: “The U.S. government has long recognized the challenges posed by an influx of migrants and refugees throughout southern Africa and provides various forms of assistance in South Africa,“ said Patrick H. Gaspard, U.S. Ambassador to South Africa.  “As an immigrant to my own country, my heart goes out to those who have been attacked for being different.”

The U.S. has provided $1.3 million towards funding for refugee programs in South Africa in 2015 and is considering proposals received from non-governmental organizations working with urban refugees.

In remarks before the South African Parliament last week, President Zuma said, “Let us work together to provide support to all foreign nationals who have been affected by this violence.” And on Tuesday, Defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula told media that soldiers will be deployed in ‘volatile areas’ where attacks on immigrants have reportedly killed over five foreign nationals. The U.S. urges South African leaders to continue to condemn in the strongest terms any provocation of anti-foreigner sentiments and calls for calm and efforts to curb the violence.- ZimPAS © April 23, 2015