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Humanitarian crisis grows in xenophobic hit KZN

The recent xenophobic violence has left five people dead and over 2,000 others displaced.

Provincial government in KwaZulu-Natal has set up four camps throughout the province to house foreign nationals who have fallen victim to xenophobic attacks. Picture: Vumani Mkhize/EWN.

DURBAN - With four refugee camps set up in various townships across KwaZulu-Natal, concerns are growing over the humanitarian crisis in the province.

The xenophobic violence which began last week has left five people dead and over 2,000 people from Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Burundi displaced as a result of the violence.

Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini has been largely blamed for the anti-foreigner sentiment after he reportedly told a gathering that foreigners should "pack their bags and go home".

In the biggest refugee camp in Chatsworth, foreign nationals are finding it hard to adjust.

Chased from their homes and with nowhere to go, they have streamed into a local soccer stadium for assistance.

Foreigners say they have been left traumatised.

KwaMashu residents have described chaotic scenes as several shops were looted overnight during attacks on foreigners.

Foreign shop owners fled with nothing but the clothes on their backs as angry youths torched their shops.

Some residents say they are shocked and dismayed at what they say is the senseless violence against foreign nationals in their township.

Five people have been killed as the attacks continue for a second week.

Areas affected last night include Umlazi, KwaMashu, Pinetown and Dalton.

Four refugee camps have been set up by the provincial government to house the displaced foreigners who say they are destitute, with some saying they want to go home.

Provincial government officials say the camps are only temporary and they hope to reintegrate the foreign nationals back into their communities soon.

Meanwhile, People Against Suffering, Oppression and Poverty (Passop) says it doesn't believe xenophobic violence in parts of KwaZulu-Natal will spread to other provinces.

Passop's Braam Hanekom says, "While there may be mischievous elements that are trying to opportunistically jump on what they believe to be a wave of xenophobic violence, I don't believe it will be easy for them to find expression in the Western Cape."

GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION

Government says it will do everything within the law to ensure safety of all citizens and foreign nationals irrespective of their status.

Ministers of the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) have been briefing the media on developments in KwaZulu-Natal.

Additional law enforcement officers have been mobilised from around the country and deployed to the affected areas.

Police Minister Nathi Nhleko has described the violence as Afro-phobic.

"What you effectively see are largely Africans against one another in a sense. That's why I am saying it represents a political problem that needs to also be dealt with."

Government says while it is going to be taking resolute action against South Africans, who attack foreigners, it is equally determined to take action against foreigners who commit crimes.

PEACE MARCH

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Senzo Mchunu is holding an urgent briefing to discuss the spate of xenophobic violence that has engulfed the province.

Mchunu is expected to announce a peace march which he will lead through the Durban CBD later this week.

The march will call on people to unite against the scourge of xenophobia that has erupted in the province.

#xenophobia Cabinet minister Malusi Gigaba and KZN Premier are currently briefing the media on steps to curb violence pic.twitter.com/bk78OKoPov

Mchunu will be accompanied by eThekwini Mayor James Nxumalo and foreign national representatives during the march.

But one Zimbabwean man feels government has not done enough to stop the violence.

"My view is very clear: the government is aware that xenophobia is spreading and they're not doing anything because by this time, they were supposed to be all over it, but they don't care."