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World Refugee Day 2007 National Activities: South Africa

World Refugee Day 2007 National Activities: South Africa

20 June 2007

UNHCR took part in a range of activities aimed at highlighting and condemning the rising number of attacks on refugees, particularly those of Somali origin. The agency took part in a "Solidarity March" in the Port Elizabeth township of Motherwell on 20 June. Municipal officials, ruling African National Congress party leaders, religious leaders, community representatives and refugees lead the march to a stadium, where a formal programme was held under the theme, "Promoting Tolerance and Acceptance through Diversity."

A keynote address on tolerance was delivered by Minister of Home Affairs Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, a former refugee. She also encouraged refugees to respect the laws of the country and not to put themselves in positions that could lead to conflict with their hosts. The premier of Eastern Cape province, Nosimo Balindlela, pledged some US$141,000 to promote the integration of refugees in the province. Organizers of the refugee day event will follow up on this pronouncement with a proposal for a strategy to promote integration.

A friendly soccer match was held between a Somali refugee team and a South African side. Nike provided soccer kits and footballs to the teams.

Activities were also held in Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg. In Durban, the Mennonite Central Committee launched a DVD on children's issues titled: "I live here!" The aim of the DVD is to give voice to refugee children; raise awareness among decision makers and service providers, parents and care givers about the general challenges they face.