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Libyan Newswire

South Africa facing backlash after attacks on foreign refugees

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African securitySouth Africa facing backlash after attacks on foreign refugees

Published 22 April 2015

South Africa is facing criticism from other African nations after a series of attacks against immigrants in the country suggested a new wave of xenophobic violence.Asurge of attacks on foreigners living in camps within the cities of Durban, Johannesburg, and other parts of the country has resulted in the deaths of six people, the displacement of 5,000, and the looting and damage to foreign-owned shops. It is estimated that between two and five million refugees and migrant workers reside in South Africa, amongst a population of fifty-one million.

South Africa is facing criticism from other African nations after a series of attacks against immigrants in the country suggested a new wave of xenophobic violence.

As theGuardian reports, a surge of attacks on foreigners living in camps in the cities of Durban, Johannesburg, and other parts of the country has resulted in the deaths of six people, the displacement of 5,000, and the looting and damage to foreign-owned shops. Most of the people affected have been “refugees and asylum seekers who were forced to leave their countries due to war and persecution,” according to an unnamed United Nations (UN) commissioner for refugees.

“It is not every South African who says go away, not at all,” said South African president Jacob Zuma, who cancelled a state visit to Indonesia to handle the crisis and reassure critics. “It is a very small number who say so. We don’t want the countries in the region where the citizens are going to look at each other in a hostile manner. We want to live as sisters and brothers.”

Given the country’s history of human rights abuses and skepticism across the continent regarding the truth in Zuma’s words, South African vehicles were stoned in Mozambique, and South African companies have been threatened with forced closure by the newly elected All Progressives Congress party in Nigeria. Protests have also been held at the country’s embassies throughout the continent.

In Mozambique, a group of 200 protesters were involved in an incident in which “Demonstrators blocked the road for half an hour, refusing to allow cars with South African registration plates to pass,” according to AFP.

In Zimbabwe, protesters marched outside of the South African embassy with a petition that read: “We, the people of Zimbabwe standing in solidarity with our brethren in Africa, strongly condemn and denounce the cruel, senseless and gruesome xenophobic slaughter of foreign nationals and the looting of their properties in South Africa.”

Further, numerous South African touring musicians have also had to cancel, including BigNuz in Zimbabwe, Kelly Khumalo in London, and others.

Much of the latest anti-immigrant violence has been viewed as a response to a speech last month by King Goodwill Zwelithini, the traditional leader of the Zulu ethnic group. In it, he linked the migrant population to crime in the country and said that “they must take their bags and go.” He has since claimed that his words were misinterpreted.

It is estimated that between two and five million refugees and migrant workers reside in South Africa, amongst a population of fifty-one million.

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