UN body to probe staff in SA

Anna Majavu

Anna Majavu

The Geneva head office of the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) has launched an inquiry into complaints made against its local staff.

A three-member panel will fly to South Africa to conduct the inquiry, the UNHCR's Antonio Guterres said yesterday.

In the wake of the xenophobic attacks this year, civil society organisations, including the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), the Aids Law Project and displaced people's representatives, last month demanded the UNHCR set up a commission of inquiry.

They alleged that "the UNHCR observed horrific conditions in the camps over several months without appropriate intervention".

They say that the UNHCR failed to advise the government that some sites in Gauteng were unsuitable for setting up camps.

"One site, Wadeville, had to be closed due to poor planning, and another, Vickers Road, was never utilised because it was unsuitable and unsafe," says the TAC.

They also allege that the UNHCR "supported camp closure, with no reintegration plan".

The UNHCR's Olivier Beer said: "It is good and we will be able also to respond to the allegations."