UN responds as state waffles on

The United Nations refugee agency has donated 2000 tents to help South Africa shelter foreigners displaced by violent attacks, while critics accuse the government of bungling its response.

The United Nations refugee agency has donated 2000 tents to help South Africa shelter foreigners displaced by violent attacks, while critics accuse the government of bungling its response.

The UN high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR) said it would help authorities find sites for temporary camps for an estimated 42000 people

"We hope that this will contribute to alleviating the suffering of displaced people," UNHCR representative Sanda Kimbimbi said.

The South African government set up a task force to investigate the attacks, but hasn't launched a coordinated relief plan.

Task force spokesman Hangwani Mulaudzi said the government needed outside help and advice because the scale and nature of the displacement was unprecedented.

"We are not familiar with such a situation," he said. "It is the first time we experience this in this country."

Cape Town has responded most effectively to the crisis, ignoring the government's preference for small shelters and setting up large tent camps for thousands though these have been criticised as resembling internment camps.

Meanwhile, Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad on Friday donated R1,5 million to help victims of the Chinese earthquake, prompting some to question the government's priorities.

Gift of the Givers head Imtiaz Sooliman suggested the government was struggling to balance the needs of both sides.

"They're considering the feeling. Are they more on the side of the immigrants or the people? " Sooliman asked. - Sapa-AP

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