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South African Army Helps Police Fight Violence Against Foreigners


South Africa deployed soldiers to parts of Johannesburg Thursday, to help end a wave of violence against foreigners that has killed 42 people. Officials emphasize soldiers will only be used to help police quell unrest. Meanwhile, Relief agencies are appealing for additional aid to care for thousands of people displaced since the attacks began in the Johannesburg area more than a week ago. The violence has lessened in recent days but sporadic incidents continue and officials say they worry that it could spread. VOA's Scott Bobb reports from Johannesburg.

In South Africa, sporadic attacks aimed primarily at foreigners continue but have declined. In the past week, angry mobs have attacked in Johannesburg's poorest neighborhoods. The city is home to hundreds of thousands of immigrants.

"People are coming in our places, beating us. Saying that 'you are taking our jobs,'" said Prince Thole, who is an immigrant from Zimbabwe.

Authorities say, however, the motive has become mostly criminal. Now relief officials are appealing for aid to care for the thousands of victims who took refuge in churches and community centers.

The provincial director the South African Red Cross, Mbuso Mthembu, tripled an earlier appeal for aid saying his group needs $1.5 million because the number of victims has doubled. , "They almost need everything. So from our side we have been able to respond with things like blankets. We have been able to respond with food. We have been able to respond with health kits," Mthembu said.

Two dozen people have been killed and more than 100 severely wounded in the attacks that broke out in northeastern Johannesburg but subsequently spread to other parts of the city.

Red Cross Secretary-General David Stephens said his group now needs funds to prepare for the long-term needs of the victims. "After this is over we have to continue to look at reconstructing lives, psycho-social support to people, physical support to people, looking at where we can link people with their families overseas because this is one of our programs," Stephens said.

He says many South Africans are frustrated because expectations raised after the end of apartheid 14 years ago have not been met.

"There's a lot of issues in the community that we may not have dealt with," Stephens said. "And so we need to look at how we talk about these issues and in a healthy environment and how can we alleviate the cooker pressure."

He says their hopes have been further frustrated by economic hardship from 40 percent unemployment, 10 percent inflation and severe price increase for food and basic goods.

The Red Cross is launching an anti-discrimination campaign and its volunteers will work with community leaders to discuss their differences and the need for tolerance. South African leaders have condemned the attacks and many citizens have donated food and clothing to the victims.