Entire families now fleeing Zimbabwe

Other News Materials 11 July 2008 20:11 (UTC +04:00)

The crisis in Zimbabwe is now driving entire families out of the country, the United Nations refugee organization UNHCR reported Friday in the South Africa capital Johannesburg, reported dpa.

In the past, most refugees travelled alone, said UNHCR spokesman Yusuf Hassan, adding "we are now seeing however, an increasing number of families arriving as a result of political violence, with several people showing signs of beatings or torture."

The UNHCR spokesman also said that the manner in which Zimbabwean refugees were arriving to South Africa was also evolving, with an increasing number of Zimbabweans (up to 4,000) daily applying for asylum in Johannesburg.

Other Zimbabwean refugees "fearful of arrest and deportation... remain underground, making them vulnerable to other forms of violence and exploitation such as rape and robbery."

Calling on South Africa to stop its deportations of Zimbabweans back to their country, Hassan said the UNHCR would be increasing its present on the Zimbabwe-South African border and assisting asylum seekers in registering with the relevant authorities. dpa rk mga