South Africa

South Africa: Urban disturbance DREF Operation No. MDRZA002 Update No. 1


The International Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) is a source of un-earmarked money created by the Federation in 1985 to ensure that immediate financial support is available for Red Cross and Red Crescent response to emergencies. The DREF is a vital part of the International Federation's disaster response system and increases the ability of national societies to respond to disasters.

Period covered by this update: 12 to 30 May, 2008

CHF 302,378 (USD 290,748 or EUR 148,225) has been allocated from the Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to support the South African Red Cross Society in delivering immediate assistance to some 30,000 beneficiaries.

Although the number of attacks has recently lessened, the thousands displaced need continue to require relief and humanitarian assistance. South African Red Cross Society (SARCS) is at the forefront of the relief operations and is providing relief assistance to those at the temporary shelters sites. SARCS has so far assisted an estimated 20,000 people around country sheltered near police stations, healthy facilities, churches and empty community buildings.

The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies continues to provide technical and field assistance to the SARCS branches throughout South Africa. SARCS continue to receive financial and in-kind donations towards is ZAR 7 million national appeal. It is anticipated that the operation will continues for the next two months.

The situation

Violent incidents, xenophobic in nature and characterised by elements of criminality were reported from 11 May, 2008 in Gauteng Province and escalated in other settlement areas in South Africa. According to the briefing given by the Minister of Safety and Security to the diplomatic community in Pretoria on Friday 23 May, there have been over 4,661 incidents and 519 people have been arrested. More than 55 people have lost their lives and over 550 people have been injured. The latest UN-OCHA figures (28 May 2008) estimate that more than 38,700 foreigners are displaced and sheltered at 95 sites in Gauteng, Kwa-Zulu Natal and Western Cape provinces.

According to latest reports, thousands of foreign nationals have gone back to their home countries:

- The Malawian High Commission estimates that 1,000 people have already returned, and that a further 900 are expected to arrive by 1st June 2008 at the interim shelter, the Kwacha Conference Centre, in Blantyre. The High Commission is expecting 300 voluntary repatriations every three days.

- Mozambique has received a total of 32,000 returnees from South Africa and are currently sheltered at a temporary transit camp at Beluluane centre.

- According to International Office for Migration (IOM), 123 Zimbabwean returnees have crossed through the boarder post at Beitbridge.

The two hardest-hit provinces of Gauteng and Western Cape are declaring states of emergency, enabling the Disaster Management Act (and resultant contingency plans) to be enacted. It is expected that the number of sites will be consolidated, so that the delivery of emergency aid to the displaced can be rationalized.

SARCS revised its national appeal (launched on 16 May 2008) from R1 million to R7 million, given the rapid increase in the number of affected people. For the time being, SARCS does not envision appealing internationally for further assistance, due to the outpouring of support from South Africans and local businesses. The National Society has also mobilized hundreds of volunteers and staff, from its 35 local branches throughout the country, to continue to provide emergency relief.

The International Federation's Country and Southern Africa Zone offices are working very closely on a daily basis with ICRC and SARCS, providing technical assistance in relief distribuitons, media and donor relations, communication, reporting and logistics. A recent assessment has shown, however, that this technical assistance will need to continue for the next two months.

How we work

All International Federation assistance seeks to adhere to the Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO's) in Disaster Relief and is committed to the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response (Sphere) in delivering assistance to the most vulnerable.

The International Federation's activities are aligned with its Global Agenda, which sets out four broad goals to meet the Federation's mission to "improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity".

Global Agenda Goals:

- Reduce the numbers of deaths, injuries and impact from disasters.

- Reduce the number of deaths, illnesses and impact from diseases and public health emergencies.

- Increase local community, civil society and Red Cross Red Crescent capacity to address the most urgent situations of vulnerability.

- Reduce intolerance, discrimination and social exclusion and promote respect for diversity and human dignity.

Contact information

For further information specifically related to this operation please contact:

In South Africa: Seija Tyrninoksa, Federation Country Representative for South Africa, Phone: Mobile: +27.82.450.3984; Tel:+27.11.303.9726; Fax: +27.11.884.3809; +27.11.884.0230 E-mail:

In Operational Zone for Southern Africa: Françoise Le Goff, Head of Zone Office, Johannesburg; Email; Phone: Mobile: +27.83.556.6565 Tel: +27.11.303.9700; +27.11.303.9711; Fax: +27.11.884.3809; +27.11.884.0230

In Geneva: John Roche, Operations Coordinator, Email:; Phone: +41.22.730.4400, Fax: +41.22.733.03.95