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Leaders Discuss Xenophobic Attacks In South Africa

UN refugee chief, Lesotho leader discuss xenophobic attacks in South Africa

11 June 2008 - The United Nations refugee chief has held talks with the Prime Minister of Lesotho on the recent wave of xenophobic attacks in neighbouring South Africa that have left some 60 people dead and tens of thousands of foreigners homeless.

António Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and Pakalitha Mosisili also discussed the agency's operations across Southern Africa and the growing role of regional bodies in dealing with migration issues during their talks, held in Geneva yesterday.

Mr. Guterres said last month's attacks in South Africa, which sparked a chorus of concern from senior UN officials and support from UNHCR for the newly homeless, were the result of extreme poverty.

"In such situations scapegoats are often foreigners, including refugees and asylum-seekers," he said. "But xenophobia is not specific to South Africa - it is a global problem and we see it also in some developed countries."

Mr. Guterres added that his office in the South African city of Pretoria is continuing to work closely with the South African Government to meet the immediate humanitarian needs of the victims of the violence.


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