Harare – United States Ambassador Bruce Wharton says his country is “deeply concerned and distressed” about the attacks against foreigners taking place in KwaZulu-Natal and other parts of South Africa that have occurred in the last few weeks in that country and has added its voice to calls by the South African Government and civil society leaders in condemning the violence.
Speaking in a pre-recorded interview broadcast by ZBC TV’s “Diplomatic Encounters” on Thursday, Ambassador Wharton said the US had not only spoken out from both its embassy in Pretoria and Washington DC but had “actively sought to find ways to mitigate it and help South Africa build a nation that does not tolerate violence.”
“The US is the largest single donor to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (ICRC), directly funding 40% of UNHCR’s budget in the Africa region and approximately 20% for the ICRC,” Wharton said.
Last week the United States embassy in Pretoria released a statement condemning the violence.
“The US government has long recognised the challenges posed by an influx of migrants and refugees throughout southern Africa and provides various forms of assistance in South Africa,“ said Patrick H. Gaspard, US ambassador to South Africa.
“As an immigrant to my own country, my heart goes out to those who have been attacked for being different.”
The US has provided $1,3 million towards funding for refugee programmes in South Africa in 2015 and is receiving proposals from non-governmental organizations working with urban refugees.
In remarks before the South African Parliament last week, President Zuma said, “Let us work together to provide support to all foreign nationals who have been affected by this violence.”
On Tuesday Defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula told media that soldiers will be deployed in ‘volatile areas’ where attacks on immigrants have reportedly killed over five foreign nationals. – ZimPAS