[DEBATE] : (Fwd) Anti-X? Useless UN HCR
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Sat Jun 21 14:48:27 BST 2008
Harsh words for UN refugee body in SA
Johannesburg, South Africa
21 June 2008 10:20
The South African office of the United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees (UNHCR) failed to respond meaningfully to the needs of
foreigners displaced by recent xenophobic attacks, civil society bodies
said on Friday.
In a statement to mark World Refugee Day, several civil society bodies
listed demands in a letter to the world body of the UNHCR.
They said several insensitive comments had been made by officials that
sought to promote South African tourism and reintegration exclusively
instead of the mandate of the UNHCR.
"For weeks now the UNHCR has insisted that they cannot advise or
intervene unless they are in receipt of a formal invitation from the
South African government. This is incorrect. Under the statute of the
UNHCR they do not have to wait for a formal invitation from the South
African government to intervene," the statement said.
According to the civil society bodies, the ultimate authority over the
activities of the UNHCR rests with the UN General Assembly, and not with
The statement further said the Gauteng and Western Cape provincial
governments indicated that they had sought the assistance of the UNHCR.
The demands listed by the civil society bodies included that the UNHCR
in South Africa must make available its plan to assist thousands of
displaced people across the country as well as its plan to protect
They also called on the executive committee of the UNHCR to meet to
discuss the crisis in South Africa. "It must acknowledge the callous and
unhelpful attitude of the UNHCR officials in Pretoria and issue an
official apology." -- Sapa
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