U.N., Lesotho officials discuss violence

June 11, 2008 at 6:55 PM
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GENEVA, Switzerland, June 11 (UPI) -- The surge in violence against foreigners in South Africa has prompted increased attention from the U.N. refugee chief and Lesotho officials.

Antonio Guterres, U.N. high commissioner for refugees, held talks Tuesday with Pakalitha Mosisili, Lesotho prime minister, to discuss the xenophobic violence in South Africa.

Officials from Lesotho, a landlocked country entirely surrounded by South Africa, are working with the United Nations in an effort to combat the escalating surge in violence that some estimates say has left as many as 60 people dead, the United Nations reported.

Guterres and Mosisili discussed ways to increase efforts to aid the thousands that have been left homeless because of the violence. The two also discussed the growing role of regional bodies in dealing with migration issues. Guterres said the attacks were largely the result of extreme poverty.

"In such situations scapegoats are often foreigners, including refugees and asylum-seekers," Guterres said in a statement.

"But xenophobia is not specific to South Africa -- it is a global problem and we see it also in some developed countries."

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