South African churches rally to help victims of xenophobic violence

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNS) — Hundreds of victims of xenophobic violence in South Africa are being housed in church halls in Durban as the country’s faith communities and civil society rally to help those displaced. “We’re housing more than 430 people, mostly from Zimbabwe, but also from Mozambique, Malawi, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo,” said Hupenyu Makusha, a coordinator in the Durban archdiocesan pastoral care for refugees project. Churches in Durban have made their halls available for temporary housing and many people have donated food, blankets and clothes, Makusha told Catholic News Service in a May 27 telephone interview from Durban. When the immediate crisis is over, the archdiocesan project will help with “voluntary repatriation for those who would rather go home than stay in the hostile atmosphere in South Africa,” Makusha said. More than 50 people have been killed in attacks on foreigners in South Africa. More than 30,000 people have been displaced and hundreds of suspects arrested since the attacks started in mid-May.

(c) 2008 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

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