South Africa: TAC, AIDS Groups Take Lead in Helping “Foreigners” Victims of Violence
Many of you know that violence against foreigners, primarily other Africans, has broken out in South African townships, with killings and mayhem in the Johannesburg area, and less violent, but potent harassment happening in Cape Town. As of this morning more than 50 people have been killed and over 20,000 displaced from their homes.
In Cape Town, probably 10,000 or so people have fled their homes to the safety of police stations, churches, committee centres. The city has opened up 4 refugee camps as well over the weekend.
Though they are not refugee rights or relief organizations, the Treatment Action Campaign and the AIDS Law Project here in Cape Town have been leading the civil society response to the crisis. The office building where TAC, ALP (ARASA and Sonke Gender Justice) share offices has been turned into gigantic relief operation led by TAC and ALP.
Hundreds of people have streamed through the offices volunteering their help, packing up blankets, food, and other essential supplies to bring out to the refugees. In addition, TAC and ALP are providing much of the political leadership in this emergency pushing the city and the province to work together. Tuesday there will be a big anti-xenophobia rally at St Georges Cathedral in Cape Town.
It’s hard doing the work we do – fighting the epidemic when the world seems to want to move on to “bigger” issues, to leave AIDS behind.
What I find truly extraordinary is that even despite our struggles, AIDS activists here in South Africa have stopped what they are doing to help their fellow men and women in this crisis. TAC and ALP staff and volunteers, and those with the other organizations, and the many individuals who have stopped by the offices are special people – they give us all hope that our struggles against AIDS, and for social justice for our communities will some day become a reality…
TAC is spending down quickly and needs donations, please go to http://www.tac.org.za/community/donate to see how you can help.
AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa
c/o AIDS Law Project
Westminster House, 4th Floor
122 Longmarket Street
Cape Town, 8001