Number of Malawians affected by xenophobic attacks rises

Written by  Patrick Lunda

The number of Malawians affected by xenophobic attacks in South Africa has risen from 420 to 1030.

South Africa march against xenophobia attacks South Africa march against xenophobia attacks

Minister of Information, Tourism and Culture Kondwani Nankhumwa, who is government spokesperso said most of those affected are women and children.

Nankhumwa said rise in the number of affected people came after the discovery of more camps where Malawians have sought refuge.

"Apart from the 420 Malawians we said had been affected, it has also been discovered that 650 Malawians are camping at a certain place in Durban, about 45 kilometers from the three camps where other Malawians are seeking refuge," Nankhumwa said.

"Again, at Greenwood Park Police Station in Johannesburg, there are 60 other Malawians seeking refuge.”

The Information minister said Malawian High Commission authorities in South Africa were yet to give finer details about the situation at the new camps.

But the minister said while it was difficult to determine the extent of injury for the victims and other associated reassured that no Malawian has been reported dead.

"At the two new places, I must indicate that they are not camps. People are just loitering, and the situation is horrible. These people need a lot of support like food. We thank aid agencies like the Red Cross which have already started providing assistance to those affected," he stated.

With the number of those affected now at 1030, Nankhumwa said the number of buses and the amount of money to be spent on the repatriation exercise would also rise.

"The amount is expected to increase.At first the six buses were meant for 420 people without luggage. But now, we are told that at the new camps people have household belongings, so we need more money and buses for them to return home," said Nankhumwa.

Nankhumwa then assured of government's efforts in ensuring that Malawians trapped in South Africa are repatriated safely.

He also thanked President Jacob Zuma of South Africa for condemning the attacks, and further urged South Africans to embrace the spirit of unity and harmony.
“We are also calling upon the government of South Africa and security agencies to protect our citizens,” he urged.

The government has already transferred K59.1 million to the Malawi High Commission in South Africa for the repatriation process.

The first buses are expected to arrive in Malawi on Sunday and the victims will be kept at Kwacha Social Welfare in Blantyre and Old Town in Lilongwe.

Screening, provision of psycho-social support and repatriation to places of their origin would also be provided at both reception centres.

The government also moved in to repatriate Malawians affected by xenophobic attacks in South Africa after the first of such attacks in 2008.

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