Zimbabweans returning amid SAfrica xenophobia fears: IOM

13th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

Zimbabwean refugees returning to their home country in recent days are reporting fears of a resurgence in anti-foreigner violence in South Africa, the International Organisation for Migration said Tuesday.

The IOM's centre at South African border town Beitbridge "reports increased traffic of Zimbabweans who have decided to temporarily return home because of fears of xenophobic flare-ups in South Africa," said Jared Bloch, spokesman for the agency.

A survey of 140 returning Zimbabweans over the weekend also found that more than 90 percent had fled threats of violence while the rest had actually suffered xenophobic violence, he added.

"Cross-border flows over the last week of the World Cup were atypically characterised by trucks laden with furniture and other household goods, indicating that people are anticipating outbreaks of xenophobic violence and are sending their belongings back to Zimbabwe to minimise losses and to allow for a quicker flight should they need to make a quick getaway," said Bloch.

The spokesman did not have figures on the numbers of returning Zimbabweans in recent days.

South Africa's government Monday ordered the police and army to take tough action to stamp out anti-foreigner threats after immigrants fled violence as the World Cup came to a close.

Seven people were arrested for public violence in a Cape Town township after weekend looting forced scores of immigrants from other African countries to abandon their shops and seek shelter in police stations.

Xenophobic attacks across South Africa in May 2008 left 62 people dead.

© 2010 AFP

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