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South Africa immigrant death toll rises to 62

Latest update : 2008-05-31

Violence targeted against immigrants in South Africa has killed 62 people and wounded 670 this month. Competition for housing and jobs, combined with soaring food and fuel prices are believed to have been behind the riots. A. Duvall Smith reports.

JOHANNESBURG, May 31 - A wave of attacks on
foreigners in South Africa has killed 62 people since the
violence broke out three weeks ago, police said on Saturday.

The violence, which has now subsided, targeted newcomers to
South Africa as well as those who had been in the country for
decades, and tens of thousands were forced to take refuge in
shelters around the country.

"This has raised the earlier toll of 56 dead. A total of 670
have been injured," police spokeswoman Sally de Beer told the
SAPA news agency. Some had died in hospital from injuries.

Fifty-two of the dead were from Gauteng province, the heart
of South Africa's economy, where the attacks began on May 11
before spreading to KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape.

De Beer said no major attacks had been reported recently in
the violence that targeted mainly Zimbabweans and Mozambicans.

Competition for housing and jobs combined with soaring food
and fuel prices are believed to have been behind the riots.
Unemployment in South Africa is around 24 percent.

At least 50,000 Mozambicans and Zimbabweans have left South
Africa as a result of the unrest.

Zimbabweans, whose country is in economic meltdown, are the
largest immigrant group in South Africa, accounting for 60
percent of the 5 million migrants living in the country of about
50 million.

Relief agencies and U.N. officials say they are shocked at
conditions in the shelters where thousands of migrants now live.
Many are sleeping outside in temperatures that drop to near
freezing at night.

Date created : 2008-05-31