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South Africa

UNICEF and South Africa work together to help families displaced by violence

© UNICEF South Africa / Schermbrucker
Victims of the violence in South Africa wait in a temporary shelter site set up by the government with support from UNICEF.

By Yvonne Duncan

PRETORIA, South Africa, 5 June 2008 – Nine thousand victims of the recent xenophobic violence in Gauteng province are being registered and relocated to temporary places of shelter. UNICEF and its partners are busy shaping a new plan of action to help the Government of South Africa respond to the growing need for emergency relief and protection services.

In Western Cape, a joint assessment is underway this week, and interventions will be planned based on the findings. Although South Africa has the financial resources to support the displaced population, UNICEF is assisting the authorities to address gaps in their crisis response operations.

“We are advising the government’s disaster management team and provincial departments on identifying supplier contacts for emergency procurement and coordination, proper nutrition guidelines for safe infant and young child feeding – and on ensuring that balanced meal packages and age-appropriate play and learning materials are provided for children and women,” said UNICEF Deputy Representative in South Africa Julianna Lindsey.

Targeted humanitarian response
In the last few days, UNICEF has been cooperating with partner organizations to conduct a series of assessments at several of the new sites. UNICEF is working towards offering a more targeted humanitarian response to the needs of the affected population. 

© UNICEF South Africa / Schermbrucker
Children displaced by violence in South Africa sit with their belongings at a temporary shelter.
Of the 9,000 people displaced, approximately 2,000 are reportedly children aged 15 or under, and  22 to 25 per cent are women.

UNICEF will draw on its regional and global emergency expertise to assist the South African Government in critical areas of need. At the top of the agenda are child protection and adherence to humanitarian principles.

In addition, UNICEF has invited one of its global experts on water and sanitation to advise South Africa on ensuring that water supplies for the displaced remain safe for drinking.

Addressing all levels of need

UNICEF will also provide technical guidance on meeting the psychosocial support needs of distressed and displaced women and children.
In order to address these needs, UNICEF plans to work with a network of South African governmental and civil society partners. Among them are the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation and Save the Children, which will help to establish child-friendly spaces at each of the new temporary shelter sites. 

Each site will include a safe and supervised place for children to play, as well as:

  • Structured activities for different age groups of children and adolescents
  • Educational activities and ongoing monitoring of children's educational needs
  • Early childhood development activities
  • Life-skills training and psychosocial support.

“This kind of action also helps us ensure that children’s rights are respected and fulfilled, even in a disaster situation such as this,” said Ms. Lindsey.



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