UN ready to assist people affected by deadly blaze in South Africa

IMF Photo/James Oatway | A man kicks a soccer ball up the street during lockdown in Alexandra Township, Johannesburg, 3 April 2020.

United Nations, 1 September 2023

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has underlined support for South Africa in the wake of the deadly fire in Johannesburg on Thursday which killed at least 74 people, including 12 children.

The overnight blaze ripped through a five-storey rundown building in the city centre occupied by homeless people and squatters. Dozens were injured.

The building was among many in the downtown area that have been abandoned and “hijacked” by criminal gangs who rent them out to families.

Sadness and grief 

The fire was among the worst in South Africa’s history. President Cyril Ramaphosa, who visited the site, described it as a “tragedy” and “a wake-up call”, according to media reports. 

The UN Secretary-General was deeply saddened by the news, his spokesperson said in a statement issued later on Thursday. 

“In this moment of great sadness and grief, he conveys his sincere condolences to the families of the victims and to the Government and people of South Africa,” it said. 

Mr. Guterres also wished a prompt recovery to the injured.   

He added that the UN Country Team in South Africa stands ready to work with the authorities to provide assistance to those affected by the fire, and to prevent further incidents of this nature.     

The original article appeared here.

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